A proposed five-story multi-use development on Mission’s Johnson Drive took another step forward and could get the green light from the city as early as June.
The Place at Mission Apartments, which would be built just east of the corner of Johnson and Lamar Avenue, would include 180 multi-family residential units, restaurants and a four-level parking garage. The development also could include office space and other retail stores.
At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Mission City Council unanimously approved a redevelopment district, or a TIF district, for Kansas City-based EPC Real Estate Group, owner of the 2.7-acre property at 6201 Johnson Drive where the development would be built.
“We love the authenticity of the city of Mission and what it has to offer,” Steve Coons, an EPC principal, told members, citing development downtown and the pedestrian-friendly nature of Johnson Drive.
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The TIF district, which would sit just east of a Salvation Army store, could qualify the developer for tax increment financing.
The project is a good candidate for tax increment financing (TIF) because the existing property on the site, while not currently blighted, has the potential for blight because of its age and extensive deterioration, Coons told council members. If TIF funding is approved, EPC would get a break on its property tax payments for the site.
The project, which Coons dubbed, appropriately enough, “mission-themed” in style, could also include two to four restaurants that would open onto a courtyard with a fountain in the middle.
“There are a lot of restaurants in Mission already,” Coons said. “We wanted an environment that had a unique feel to it.”
The project would have little impact on traffic, Coons said, with an estimated one more car per minute added to the existing traffic mix during peak morning hours.
With passage of the TIF district at the Wednesday meeting, Johnson County and the Shawnee Mission School District both have 30 days to comment on the project, said Laura Smith, Mission’s city administrator.
Both the Mission Planning Commission and the council are scheduled to review preliminary plans for The Place at Mission in May meetings. Smith said the project could get final approval in June or July.
Also Wednesday, the council narrowly approved a traffic light at the corner of Johnson Drive and Woodson Street.
Mayor Steve Schowengerdt broke a 4-4 deadlock to approve the light, which could cost up to $307,000 to install. The light could be up and running by the fourth quarter of this year, Smith said.
The intersection used to have a light, but it was removed three years ago when federal funds to help pay for it were cut off due to a lack of traffic. Since then, a buildup of city funds has made it feasible to reinstall it.
Supporters of the light cited concerns about pedestrians crossing at the intersection, particularly K-12 students and residents of the Mission Project, an independent living facility for adults with developmental disabilities.
“I’ve seen two near misses there in the last three months,” Councilman Tom Geraghty, who voted for the light, said. “There’s a flashing light on one side of the street, but not on the other, and people just do not stop.”
Opponents of the light said business owners on Johnson Drive and residents were not given enough time to voice their concerns and to support alternatives to the light.
One alternative, turning four-lane Johnson Drive into a three-lane street through downtown by repainting pavement markings, would help protect pedestrians at all intersections, not just on Woodson, opponents said. That plan, which could cost $150,000, also would make it easier for vehicles to back out of angled parking spots on Johnson Drive, opponents said.
Johnson Drive also would be more pedestrian- and bike-friendly if it were three-lane, they said.
Also at the April meeting, Ward 1 Councilman Pat Quinn was unanimously elected council president. He replaces Debbie Kring.
Quinn, who had been vice president, was first elected to the council in 2012. His current term runs through 2020. Taking his place as vice president is Ward 4 Councilman Ron Appletoft, who also was elected unanimously.