In a long anticipated move, the Prairie Village City Council took the first steps in approving a development planned on the former Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club in Prairie Village.
The council committee of the whole voted 11-1 Monday to approve a memorandum of understanding agreement with VanTrust Real Estate, Johnson County Park and Recreation District, and Johnson County wastewater. The agreement will be forwarded on to the July 6 City Council meeting for final approval.
Described as a good faith document, the document outlines the general structure of the redevelopment and identifies responsibilities for all the parties involved.
“We’re about to commit a lot of time and resources into further development of the Meadowbrook project, said City Administrator Quinn Bennion. “With such a large project, the (agreement) represents what our understanding is of where we’re headed. It sets the structure and framework as we work forward.”
Johnson County Park and Recreation District and Johnson County government will review the agreement at their upcoming meetings. Bennion expects the agreement to be signed by all parties by mid-July.
Councilwoman Sheila Myers was the lone vote against approving the memorandum. Myers, who was appointed in April to fill the Ward 4 seat vacated by Laura Wassmer, said she didn’t understand why the city would issue general obligation bonds to pay for parkland that it would not own.
“I just saw this for the first time on Thursday and it’s kind of a big deal in my opinion. It’s important to understand that the city is going into debt to donate the land to the county,” she said.
VanTrust Real Estate’s plans for the 137-acre Meadowbrook property — bordered by 91st and 95th streets and Nall and Roe avenues — call for the city to buy 88 acres of land from the developer and turn the land over to the Johnson County Park and Recreation District for a public park. VanTrust would develop the rest of the property into a four-story senior living center, two neighborhoods of town homes, an area of luxury apartments, a couple of blocks of single-family homes, and a boutique inn.
The city would create a tax-increment financing district and issue $8.5 to $9.5 million in general obligation and $5.8 to $7 million in special obligation TIF bonds for the park land and park development. The bonds would be repaid with the additional property tax revenue created when VanTrust develops an adjacent 41-acre parcel but the city would be on the hook for the general obligation bonds if the revenue doesn’t cover them.
Bennion said in an interview that the city was being conservative in its estimate of how much in bonds it can issue and still be covered by the TIF revenue.
Councilman Eric Mikkelson raised conceptual questions about the lack of details pertaining to the park in the document.
“Who will ultimately determine what’s in this park?” he said. “I’m just wondering if, as a city, we want to consider additional specifics as to what is in this park and what is not in this park when we make the gift.”
Jill Geller, director of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, said the district would include the public in its planning and bring its concepts for the park to the council for review before they are finalized. She expects to begin the master planning process after the agreement is signed by all parties.
Bennion agreed with the direction the council is headed in, saying that Johnson County Park and Recreation was more equipped to maintain the size, scope, and maintenance of the intended park.
The next steps for the city include drafting the development agreement, establishing a Tax Increment Financing district that would help pay for the park land and the planning and zoning process. Bennion expects work on the TIF agreement to last through at least the end of the year.