Experts see high demand for planned center

A planned Olathe community center should make enough money to pay for its operation in the first year it’s open, experts told the City Council on Monday.

Pent-up demand for the many activities at the planned $22.5 million center at Stagecoach Park is so great that there may even be calls to build another center, they said.

Leon Younger, president of Pros Consulting, presented use projections and numbers on cost and financial returns.

For now, the center is projected to be about 60,000 square feet and open in December 2013.

Kevin Corbett, Olathe’s director of parks and recreation, said the need exists.

“Our recreation programs are exploding these last few years,” he said.

Younger and Corbett rejected concerns by some council members that the center would hurt the business of private fitness clubs, noting that only about 4,350 square feet will be devoted to fitness activities.

The proposed mix includes 11,870 square feet for the pool area, 11,700 square feet for sports and a 5,000-square-foot multipurpose room for meetings, classes and events.

There will also be birthday party rooms, a child care area, a lounge and space for a lobby and offices.

Those elements will affect the revenue, the council was told. For instance, the aquatic center is expected to cost about $396,453 to operate and bring in $295,120. The child care center is expected to cost $33,269 and bring in $22,320.

Both of those elements are important in attracting members willing to pay monthly fees.

Other uses are heavily profitable in the industry. The party room space is projected to cost $33,425 and bring in $87,500, while rentals for events including weddings and reunions are expected to cost $25,785 and bring in $150,250.

Money will come in through monthly fees, daily fees and the rental costs, the council was told, but people will also be able to use much of the facility for free and socialize there.

Younger said it would be a mistake to try to create a section for just older people, who tend not to use such places.

“Most of them feel they are 15 years younger than they are,” he said.

Other business

Also Monday, the City Council and the Planning Commission heard a presentation from the consultant working to update and revise the city’s codes and building requirements.

The upgrade is the first since 2002 and is part of an Olathe master plan approved two years ago.

While the master plan is meant to be visionary, the codes work is a balance between innovation and financial practicality, said Mike White, a principal at White and Smith LLC.

There will be opportunities for public input from citizens, developers and others in the upgrade process, which will last until 2013, he said.

“We’ve got to listen carefully to the community, take its temperature,” he said. “Everybody hates their existing codes and hates anybody that changes the existing codes.”