The planned redevelopment of the Metcalf South shopping center in Overland Park hit a big speed bump last week when the city staff posed legitimate reasons to deny a rezoning request.
While a large mixed-use proposal needs to be — and likely will be — approved for largely abandoned sites at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue, project supporters will have to make a better case for it than they have so far.
Specifically, the plan needs to emphasize that the “new” vision for the area provides not just new stores but also places to live, a safe and walkable environment, plus a denser kind of development that makes the site more than just another suburban shopping mall.
The staff laid out well-argued concerns about the project:
▪ It needs better public spaces. The staff said “a quality, defining public space is a critical component to redevelopment ... and has the potential to add economic value.”
▪ It requires a better layout. “Large parking fields dominating the fronts of stores is not in keeping with the vision for the (Metcalf Avenue) corridor,” the staff said.
▪ It needs improved pedestrian access. The current plan does provide some “clear routes that are comfortable and convenient for walkers,” but “there is still a substantial feel ... that these are just paths in a parking lot.”
▪ It ought to include more density, such as “allowing for additional uses of office and residential.”
The city’s Planning Commission held a public hearing Monday but put off a final vote on the redevelopment until a future meeting.
Before then, the developers should continue working with city planners to resolve their legitimate concerns about such a large and important project in Overland Park.