Olathe & Southwest Joco

Olathe program encourages redevelopment in older parts of town

In an effort to upgrade one of Olathe’s older neighborhoods, the city has approved its second-ever Neighborhood Revitalization Area giving tax rebates to eligible people who make significant improvements on their property.

The revitalization area, which is expected to have final approval by the end of this month, is aimed at encouraging development in the older part of the city extending to railroad tracks just south of West Old Highway 56. The program is geared to owners of commercial and multi-family properties.

Property owners who make at least $10,000 of improvements that will result in at least a 10 percent increase in value will get an 80 percent rebate on the incremental increase in property taxes over a 10-year period. The revitalization program will be available until March 2026.

It’s the second time the city has used tax breaks as a lure to get improvements in the older part of town. The first revitalization program, enacted in 2008 and expiring at the end of this year, covered the downtown Olathe area.

This one is farther south, from West Virginia Lane to south of Old Highway 56 between South Payne Street and South Pitt Street on the west and South Parker Street on the east.

The new revitalization area, unlike the first one, will not be available to single-family property owners.

The idea is to encourage redevelopment in the area, which is about 180 acres, said City Attorney Ron Shaver. Commercial and multi-family properties already exist in that area, which is about 21.5 percent residential. The city hopes the tax rebates will provide incentive for the kind of redevelopment that has so far been lacking in that area, he said.

There are some commercial and multifamily buildings there already, such as military housing and an old hotel. Chris Herre, one of the principals of Rose Design Build Inc., said two of his clients may be interested in redeveloping their properties in the area as a result of the tax rebates. One of those could result in a five-building industrial redevelopment, he said.

“I think it’s a great tool and it provides incentives for older areas where there are infill lots,” Herre said. “It’s a way for the city to clean up areas and eventually collect the taxes on them.”

There are some restrictions on the type of improvements eligible. Rebates won’t be given for swimming pools, hot tubs, fences or sheds, for example.

The revitalization area has been OKed by the city and school district and got the Johnson County commission’s approval March 16. The state attorney general must sign off on it before applications will be accepted. There’s also a $100 application filing fee.