A modified plan for a controversial downtown Overland Park office/entertainment complex won unanimous support Monday from the Overland Park planning commission and heads to the City Council in July.
No one from the public spoke against the Edison OP plan Monday. But that doesn’t mean public opposition has evaporated. One business owner who has concerns about the project said she hadn’t been notified about Monday’s meeting.
The Edison OP proposal has prompted an intense debate over development and change in downtown Overland Park. It includes a five-story office building at the southwest corner of 80th and Marty streets; a first-floor food hall in the office building; a public courtyard; a one-story renovated building for a restaurant on Marty Street; and a four-story parking garage at the northwest corner of 81st and Marty streets.
Advocates have said it will bring 400 office workers downtown during the day, increasing the area’s vitality and urban vibe, while providing entertainment attractions to appeal to families on nights and weekends.
Opponents have argued at previous planning commission and city council meetings that the office building is too tall, large and doesn’t fit downtown Overland Park’s small-town charm. They also worry the development will only exacerbate serious traffic congestion.
John Petersen, attorney for developer Tim Barton, told the commission Monday that the developer and the Opus Group architects have listened to concerns from the city council and residents.
“We heard comments from the public, several of which resonated with us,” he said. “We took those to heart.”
He said the first floor has a more pedestrian-friendly appearance and now has the food hall, which earlier was supposed to be in a separate two-story building. Another nearby building on Marty Street will be renovated rather than torn down.
An earlier plan to have a large permanent TV screen on the northern facade of the parking garage has been scrapped over neighborhood concerns about noise. But the courtyard would still have space for a stage, allowing concerts and other entertainment events.
“We made some decisions that were driven by, how do we address the aesthetics of the building?” Petersen said. "How do we continue to attempt to be good neighbors?”
Concerns about insufficient parking also prompted the developer to expand the garage by 100 spaces. It would now have 429 spaces, including 24 spaces designated at all times for the public. The rest would be public after office hours and on weekends.
Commission members said they liked the changes and the project.
“I do think those are enhancements to the plan,” said Commissioner Rob Krewson. “It was a good project. I think it’s a better project for us today.”
But Coleen Babcock, co-owner of the Ambrosia Café in downtown Overland Park, said Monday afternoon that she hadn’t known about the plan commission meeting. She said many nearby residents and business owners still oppose the project, despite the changes.
“I don’t think it’s better,” she said. She pointed out that a petition is still circulating that opposes Edison OP and urges the city council to rethink and revise its building codes for downtown.