Lenexa’s center of gravity will continue to move westward with the opening of a new civic center in a couple of years.
City officials have unveiled plans for a new civic center near the intersection of 87th Street Parkway, Penrose Lane and Winchester Street. The $75 million complex will include a recreational center, space for a farmers market and a building that will eventually house city offices and city council chambers.
More than 100 people turned out to hear about the civic center at an informational open house recently. The project has already been approved and work is set to begin early next year.
Designers are still putting on the finishing touches, but plans are for two separate buildings as well as a five-story garage for free parking.
The roughly triangular 5.4-acre plot lies in the vicinity of the long-running City Center development near Renner Road.
The 76,000-square-foot rec center will include an indoor aquatic area with water slides, lazy river, lap swimming lanes, a wellness pool and play structures for children. Also on the list of amenities are a glass-sided one-sixth mile walking track, rooms for fitness classes and children’s play areas, three multi-use gymnasiums and cardio and weight equipment. The city advertised membership-based admission and affordable rates for the center, but prices are still being worked out.
A few feet away, across a public plaza, a separate 55,000-square-foot building will offer a 250-seat room in which the city council will eventually hold its meetings. That room and other rooms will also be available for other meetings, events and performances. There will also be public art gallery space. Currently, art is displayed in the hallways of City Hall.
The center will also have an indoor public market for local vendors. The city also expects to lease some of that space to a yet-to-be-named university tenant, said Mike Nolan, assistant to the city administrator.
An outdoor area between the two buildings will have space for public gatherings and an outdoor amphitheater. A five-level, 500-stall parking garage will be on the southwest side. Just outside that, a covered walkway will be installed to protect vendors and customers for a new farmers market.
Construction is expected to begin early next year, with an opening sometime in 2017.
The civic center is part of a long-range plan that began about 10 years ago. It will be funded by a 3/8-cent sales tax that was approved in 2008, the city’s capital improvement fund and rent paid by leasing out some of the space.
The project will cause a ripple of future changes in current city property. Once the council and city offices move out of the current city hall at 12350 W. 87th Street Parkway, that space will be given to the police department in the same building complex. The Police Department has become crowded and needs more space, said Assistant City Administrator Todd Pelham. Municipal court, also in the complex, will remain where it is, so the entire space eventually will be devoted to public safety.
The current Lenexa Community Center, 13420 Oak St., will continue to be used as a gym and senior meal site and meeting place, although those functions also will be available at the new civic center, Pelham said. The city has a small senior center next door to that building, but there are no plans to either reconfigure or sell off those properties, he said.
Pelham said there are no plans to move any events, such as the Fourth of July parade or barbecue contest, from the eastern part of town to the new center. The new civic center most likely will draw new events, he said.
The recreation center will be only a few blocks from Life Time Fitness, a private fitness center that opened three and a half years ago at 16851 W. 90th St. Eric Blick, general manager of the Lenexa Life Time Fitness, said the new recreational center could hurt business if its prices are lower. But he added that Life Time also offers a number of medi-spa services and diagnostics that are not common at community centers.
Lenexa Parks and Recreation Director Gary Ristow said the new center will focus on families, including the very young and very old. The center will not compete with the private club, Ristow said, aiming instead at the 85 percent of the population that does not belong to a gym.
People at the open house were generally enthusiastic about the civic center plans.
“I’m excited,” said Martha Kruckemyer, who lives with her husband, Alan, about two and a half miles from the site. She said she looks forward to the indoor walking track, which will have a view of a nearby golf course. And she’ll bring her grandchildren to play in the water features, she said.
Darlene Bedford, of western Lenexa, said the center will provide more things for out-of-town visitors to do.
“Now we’ll have alternatives when it’s bad outside,” she said.