After years of declining occupancy and attacks by vandals, the Westbrooke Village shopping center in Shawnee may soon be replaced with a new version that includes luxury apartment buildings and public green spaces.
The city planning commission approved rezoning the 32-acre site at 75th Street and Quivira Road on Monday into two sections.
One section would include 11 new or renovated buildings containing almost 112,000 square feet of space for shops and restaurants, including potentially a neighborhood grocery store. The current locations for Walgreen’s and Brotherhood Bank are not part of the redevelopment.
The second section would include five apartment buildings up to five stories high containing around 530 “class A” units as well as resident amenities such as a village green with an amphitheater, a walking trail, and a multi-story parking deck.
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The Shawnee City Council is scheduled to consider the development at its Dec. 18 meeting.
Curt Petersen, an attorney with Polsinelli PC the represents the developer, MP Westbrooke LLC, said the project would represent a huge improvement for the existing property and surrounding area.
Built in 1988, the shopping center lost its anchor grocery store several years ago and has seen a growing number of vacancies as well as damage from vandalism.
“We can all agree this is a transformative project,” Petersen said. “Certainly, an infill project of this scale and scope taking over what has become somewhat of a blighted or problem commercial site that needs attention, investment, and focus.”
In total, the project is expected to cost $110.6 million, and the developers are planning to ask Shawnee to approve $19.5 million in tax increment financing. This is an economic development tool where the local government agrees to divert future incremental gains in property tax on the site to reimburse the developers for certain expenses.
A number of residents attended the meeting and expressed concerns with how the development will affect single-family neighborhoods to the north and east of the property.
City staff indicated that the developers have agreed to create significant buffers from nearby residents and are even working with individual homeowners on the types and location of trees to be planted along the property line to screen the development from view.
Still, some residents continued to say they were worried about “high rise” buildings being so close to their homes.
“My main concern is how high these buildings are,” resident John Coulter said. “They’re kind of downplaying it, but, when you look, they’re 20 to 30 feet higher than what the residents (see now).”
Others asked that the city ensure that lights and sound created by the development, such as possible concerts at the outdoor amphitheater or live entertainment at the commercial area’s restaurants, would not affect them.
Several commissioners told the residents that they understood their concerns and that many details of a massive mixed-use development like this would not be filled out until the final plans were approved months or years from now.
Commissioners also stressed that redeveloping the shopping center is a goal of the city and the development would fill a lot of needs for the area, if approved.
“When we look at these projects, the one thing that I really have on my mind is it might not be perfect,” Commission Chairman Dennis Busby said, “but we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good, and this is a damn good project.”
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