Northeast Joco

Long-debated Mission Chateau project is about to begin in Prairie Village

Nearly five years after the Tutera Group purchased the closed Mission Valley Middle School property, and after more twists and turns than a soap opera, work is nearly ready to begin on transforming the site into the Mission Chateau senior living development.

Architect Rick Jones appeared at the Prairie Village Planning Commission’s meeting Tuesday night and told the commissioners that grading the land could begin as soon as July 1. And if that happens, the project could be complete by the end of 2017.

The commission approved a final development plan at its March 1 meeting, but Jones made an informal appearance this week to show commissioners the latest decorative tweaks his firm had made to the 225,000-square-foot central complex.

“After the last meeting, I heard a lot of comment that it was bland and unimaginative,” Jones said.

In response, he said, “We’ve taken out some of the timbering and added stone. We’ve toned down the Tudor aspects … and made it more Craftsman (style), with some contemporary flair. We’ve kind of calmed down the outside a little bit, and the color is not so monotonously beige.”

Three different shades of native Kansas stone will be used on the exterior walls, Jones told commissioners. He passed around small slabs of stone and a board with samples of other exterior materials attached.

Although the building will have three levels, Jones said it would appear from Mission Road to be just two stories in height. Units on the lowest, or garden, level will have patios and might be favored by dog owners, Jones said.

Commission members were pleased with Jones’ report.

“I think it looks great,” said Jeffrey Valentino. “You are bringing a beautiful building to the community.”

“It’s much better than what we saw the last time,” said Commission Chairwoman Nancy Wallerstein. “The stone was down at the garden level. You’ve brought it up and added texture and variance. … Now let’s get this project started!”

Jones said his firm was still working with county officials on a drainage survey and wastewater permits. With final plans approved, the developer can now seek a bid from a general building contractor, Jones said.

Wallerstein asked whether this was the last time the commission would hear from Mission Chateau developers. Consultant Chris Brewster replied yes, except for a possible re-platting of the southern portion of the land, where 11 separate villas are to be built.

“Tell your client ‘Bravo,’ ” Wallerstein said in conclusion.

It was a quiet denouement for a project that had been hugely controversial during its long gestation. Neighbors opposed to the plan banded together to oppose it, and their campaigning included the use of yard signs, packing meetings with dozens of opponents and even suing the City Council. Figuring into the lawsuit was an ordinance was passed in 2013, requiring a supermajority of the City Council to pass any special-use permit opposed by neighbors representing 20 percent of nearby land. During negotiations between the Tutera Group and neighbors, a skilled-nursing facility was dropped from the plan, shrinking it significantly in size.