Joco 913

Bellmont Promenade project moves forward after some compromise

The Bellmont Promenade project would be built on the southwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road in Shawnee.
The Bellmont Promenade project would be built on the southwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road in Shawnee. Google Earth

A portion of the Bellmont Promenade project has gotten the green light from Shawnee planners after the developers and neighbors reached a deal that moves part of the project farther away from nearby homes.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday night to recommend approval of a request to rezone 7.5 acres within the project at the southwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Mauer Road for a mixed-use building when it goes back before the City Council on Feb. 25.

Commissioners had originally recommended approval of the building on Dec. 17. But after that vote, a group of nearby residents successfully filed a protest petition, which would require a larger majority of the council to vote for the development for it to pass.

Instead, the developers, Legacy Development and Bach Homes, met with the neighbors to find a compromise. The residents offered a new map for the project that would move part of the western wing of the buildings toward the center of the site and farther from nearby homeowners, which the developers incorporated into their plans and resubmitted to the city.

The changes to the buildings’ footprint do not change the project’s underlying scope. The two companies plan to construct 249 market-rate apartment units and more than 14,300 square feet of commercial/office space.

Doug Allmon, community development director, said changing the design of the building did reduce the number of parking spaces on the property from 259 to 232, below the amount normally required for the proposed number of apartments. But he said most of the units are one-bedroom or studio apartments, meaning they typically require fewer vehicles, and the site will share parking with the retail parts of the development across 66th Terrace.

Several commissioners praised the two sides for developing the compromise, even acknowledging that they had thought the project would always remain controversial.

“I think some of us bought into the notion that the only thing that was going to work for (the residents) was nothing,” said Commissioner Les Smith. “I’m big enough to sit up here and say I was wrong, and I’m glad that everyone involved was able to come up with something to make it more palatable to the neighborhood.”

Commissioner Kathy Peterson said she voted for the original plan but wished this plan had been the proposal all along.

“I’m glad they looked at this one more time,” Peterson said.

No one from either side spoke during the meeting. But afterward, the residents, who have been battling developers on the site since 2014, said they were content with the amended project going forward.

“It’s been a long time getting here,” said Don Lysaught, who lives on Bell Road adjacent to the project site and helped develop the alternate plan. “We can live with it. We’re still not excited about it. There’s still some things that concern us, but we can live with what was done.”

In addition to voting on the new plans, the City Council on Feb. 25 is scheduled to hold a pair of public hearings to consider changes to some of the many financial incentives the developers are seeking for the overall 26-acre, $98 million project which will include a total of 157,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The companies are seeking tax increment financing, or TIF, which allows the developers to keep 90 percent of property tax increases over the next 20 years to pay for certain development costs, such as roads, storm drains and other infrastructure. They also seek a 1 percent TIF city general sales tax, a 1.6 percent community improvement district (CID) sales tax, a CID special assessment and $19.5 million in special obligation bonds to help get construction started earlier. The developer would be solely responsible for paying off the special obligation bonds using TIF and CID funds.

David Twiddy: