A new plan for razing and replacing the closed Metcalf South Shopping Center calls for a Lowe’s Home Improvement store to be built along with smaller retail stores around the site perimeter.
Lane4 Property Group, rebuffed by Overland Park city planners in its first, larger redevelopment proposal, on Wednesday submitted a new $80 million vision for only the southeast quadrant of 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue.
Owen Buckley, president of Lane4, said the proposal is feasible without property tax abatement or special sales taxes.
“We have a good feel for what the market will bear,” Buckley said. “We’ve been out talking to retailers and restaurants and believe that this project won’t require public investments.”
Plans for the empty K-Mart/French Market center across 95th Street, the northeast quadrant of the intersection, are not included in this submission.
The two retail properties were developed in 1967 and once were the epicenter of Johnson County retailing. Both centers began struggling as new centers were built to the south and west, and by 2014 the stores were nearly all shuttered.
The new proposal, submitted under the name 95 Metcalf South, pictures a 121,000-square-foot Lowe’s store and garden center plus 13 smaller buildings that would be located around the perimeter just north of the existing Sears store.
The Sears store at the south end of the mall is separately owned and is not a part of the plan.
Because no public incentives are sought, the new proposal requires only a site plan approval from the city. But that alone might be difficult, given the city’s past reluctance to approve a “big box” store and large expanses of parking at that site.
Lane4 and The Kroenke Group, the partnership that owns the properties, withdrew an earlier $324 million multiuse redevelopment plan last August after city planners and some neighbors opposed it.
One of the biggest sticking points in that plan, then dubbed Central Square, was its inclusion of an unspecified 177,000-square-foot store on the Metcalf South side, about where the closed Macy’s store is located. That is the same location proposed for Lowe’s.
Officials at Lowe’s approved its inclusion in the plan, but its corporate policy is to not speak publicly about it until it gets through the city approval process.
The new plan could be on the Overland Park planning docket in July and be presented to the City Council in August.
If the plan is approved, Buckley said, demolition on the mall could begin this autumn. Demolition is likely to take five or six months before site preparation could begin. The Lowe’s store potentially could open in mid-2018, he said, with some of the retail or restaurant pad sites up and running then, too.
If built as proposed, 95 Metcalf South would include about 294,220 square feet of retail space and about 298,000 square feet of green space in parking lot islands and perimeter plantings. The site currently has about 600,000 square feet of retail space.
City planners last year said the surface parking component of the plan wasn’t in keeping with Overland Park’s “Vision Metcalf” guidelines for Metcalf redevelopment. Vision Metcalf calls for multiuse, higher-density development, including residences and less apparent parking.
But the developers countered that a big-box store was essential to generate enough customer traffic to support the smaller retailers that would be part of the plan.
The new proposal depends on a big-box store, but developers hope the new parking lot configuration — with lots of tree islands and retail shops buffering stretches of asphalt from street view — will appease critics.
The new proposal comes about a year and a half after Lane4 and Kroenke, operating as 95 Metcalf Properties Inc., proposed a 60-acre upscale residential, retail and office development for both sides of 95th Street on the east side of Metcalf. The partners had bought the properties in 2014 and had hoped for a groundbreaking by spring 2016.
The developers previously had sought public incentives from Overland Park to cover about one-fifth of the redevelopment costs. They had asked for a 100 percent property tax abatement for 20 years, issuance of $78 million in bonds and creation of a Community Improvement District sales tax of 1 1/2 cents within the Central Square boundaries, but that’s not part of the current plan.
“This is a market-driven plan,” Buckley said of the new submission. “We expect it to generate $8 million to $9 million a year in real estate and sales taxes for the city when complete.”
The development team includes DLR Group architects and Davidson Architecture & Engineering.
Meanwhile, Buckley said, the development team is “staying very open-minded” about plans for the north side of 95th Street.
“It’s totally up in the air and all options are open,” he said.