The Olathe City Council on Tuesday approved a 303-unit apartment complex planned for property the city owns at the northwest corner of Black Bob Road and Indian Creek Parkway.
Councilmembers voted 5-1 to rezone the 17 acres, which formerly was the home of the Indian Creek Library, for the Anderson Pointe Apartments.
The Indian Creek Library was permanently closed after suffering significant flood damage from a water-main break in March 2016. The city is currently building a replacement library branch in the old Hy-Vee building at 135th Street and Brougham Drive in east Olathe.
The city is selling the former library property to the developers for $1.9 million and plans to close the sale early next year, said City Attorney Ron Shaver.
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Tuesday’s decision came despite concerns from nearby residents that the complex’s four-story apartment buildings will be too tall for single-family neighborhoods to the west and north of the property and that the development’s residents will overwhelm surrounding roads and schools.
The developers, including Block Real Estate Services, plan to build five four-story apartment buildings on the east side of the property closest to Black Bob Road and 12 two-story townhouses along the west side of the property.
Aaron Mesmer, with Block Real Estate, said the development would be similar to the WaterCrest and EdgeWater apartment complexes that the company recently built in Lenexa. Those developments, he said, include luxury furnishings inside the units surrounded by resort-like amenities on the outside — such as pools, cabanas, outdoor kitchens, and extensive landscaping.
“The product that we want to bring to Olathe is one that we think doesn’t exist here today,” Mesmer told the council.
He said the developers met with the neighbors and have tried to accommodate their concerns. For example, Mesmer said they agreed to scrap the original plan for 411 units and seven apartment buildings.
City staff said traffic studies did indicate a need to add turn lanes to the intersection of Black Bob Road and Indian Creek Parkway but that they didn’t believe the development would contribute significantly to traffic congestions. They added that the complex isn’t expected to add to current flooding problems along Indian Creek and that Olathe School District officials estimated area schools could accommodate the extra students generated by the complex.
That still did little to assuage worried neighbors.
Sydney Martin, who lives on Indian Creek Parkway, said the apartment buildings, which will reach up to 57 feet tall, could provide a dangerous precedent for other multifamily development in the area. She also questioned whether the city, which already has dozens of multifamily complexes, needed another one.
“I know the council probably sees many of us here as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard),” Martin said. “Yes, we do feel that way. We love our neighborhood. It is a residential neighborhood, and this project does not seem to fit the character of a residential neighborhood as it stands. It will irreparably alter the character of our neighborhood.”
Fellow resident Natalia Berezovskaya worried that the buildings would block the view from the second story of her house. She also claimed that the city is ignoring the large number of protest petitions filed by neighbors in advance of Tuesday’s meeting.
City staff said they received 11 protest petitions making up 11 percent of property within 200 feet of the proposed development. To be a valid protest petition, which would require a positive vote by 3/4 of the council to approve the project, the city had to receive petitions from the owners of 20 percent of property within that area.
In response to neighbors, Mesmer said that the property sits lower than the surrounding neighborhoods and that the apartment buildings will be built more than 400 feet away from the nearest single-family home. Combined with a thick line of trees and bushes along the property line, he said the neighbors are not likely to be able to see the apartment buildings.
Councilwoman Marge Vogt asked Mesmer if the developer would be willing to reduce the apartment buildings to three stories, but he refused. He said the buildings are designed to include elevators, which would not be financially feasible with only three floors.
Vogt ultimately cast the lone no vote against the development, which she said she did “out of respect for my residents,” but added, “I think it’s a good project.”
In other business, the council voted unanimously to renew the Neighborhood Revitalization Area that covers a section of central Olathe bordered by Harold Street to the north, Interstate 35 to the east, Old 56 Highway to the south and Kansas 7 to the west.
Within this area, property owners who perform at least $5,000 of improvements to their single-family residential property or at least $10,000 of improvements to multifamily residential or commercial property can apply for a 10-year rebate for a portion of the cost of the improvements.
The program was scheduled to end on Dec. 31 after 10 years. It is designed to encourage property owners within the city core to improve their property values.
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