Olathe & Southwest Joco

Olathe council hears pitch for corporate HQ in Corporate Ridge office park

The Olathe City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to amend a city ordinance aimed at preventing children getting locked in hot cars. The new ordinance makes it illegal to leave a child under the age of 10 unattended in a vehicle unless accompanied by a mentally competent person 14 years or older.
The Olathe City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to amend a city ordinance aimed at preventing children getting locked in hot cars. The new ordinance makes it illegal to leave a child under the age of 10 unattended in a vehicle unless accompanied by a mentally competent person 14 years or older. Modesto Bee

A proposal to build a 78,000-square-foot corporate headquarters building in the Corporate Ridge office park in Olathe is moving closer to reality.

The Olathe City Council held a public hearing Tuesday on VanTrust Real Estate LLC’s request for the city to issue $29.07 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project’s construction and to provide a 65 percent property tax break for 10 years.

No one spoke during the hearing, and council members didn’t discuss the project further.

VanTrust has not disclosed a tenant for the proposed two-story building, which would be built on 12.75 acres on the east side of Ridgeview Road and 108th Street. In the company’s application, it describes the building as being “for a company with revenues currently of more (than) half a billion dollars, and projected revenues 10 years from now of more than a billion dollars.”

With industrial revenue bonds, the developer is responsible for paying them back and city taxpayers have no liability. Developers typically buy the bonds through local governments to take advantage of certain tax and interest rate benefits.

VanTrust’s request shows that the company plans to spend $3 million of the bonds buying the land and $21 million to build the building. The remaining $5 million would pay for furniture, equipment and other expenses.

As part of the city’s internal consideration of the project, staff estimated that the project would create 370 jobs over 10 years and help retain 190 positions, as well as lead to $10 million in additional annual sales.

By the 10th year, when the tax abatement ends, the city estimates the building will generate $37.6 million in new annual wages and $759,090 in new property taxes. Olathe itself will realize an estimated $148,680 in new property tax revenue.

In addition to the 78,000-square-foot office building, VanTrust said in documents that the tenant may add a 63,000-square-foot future expansion within six years.

Olathe has approved a number of industrial revenue bond projects in recent years with five new projects created in 2016 alone. Those projects, including four warehouses and another office building, represented more than $100 million in proposed investment and 667 additional jobs over 10 years. Four of the projects include property tax abatements similar to what VanTrust is requesting.


In other business, the council voted 5-1 to amend a city ordinance aimed at preventing children getting locked in hot cars. The new ordinance makes it illegal to leave a child under the age of 10 unattended in a vehicle unless accompanied by a mentally competent person 14 years or older. It also defines “unattended” as the parent or other caretaker being more than 10 feet away from the vehicle. The original ordinance said that no children under age 18 could be left in a locked vehicle unless they had the ability to let themselves out.

The ordinance removes a requirement that law enforcement prove the vehicle is locked and lists the types of people, such as police and firefighters, who are authorized to intervene if they suspect a unattended child in a vehicle is in physical danger or a danger to others.

Deputy City Attorney Chris Grunewald said the changes would make the law easier to enforce and match requirements established by other states and municipalities. He said it was driven by concerns about children being injured or killed after being locked in vehicles during warmer months.

Councilman John Bacon voted against the ordinance, saying he thought it was still confusing and overly broad, making it a crime if a parent with children in the car ran back in the house to grab something or walked 12 feet away from the car to quickly mail a package.

“It seems like a ‘gotcha’ situation,” Bacon said.

Other council members said they shared Bacon’s concern but wanted to err on the side of safety. They also said they trusted Olathe police to “use common sense” when determining whether a caregiver was actually putting a child in danger.


The council also heard from a city performance analyst that visitors to the city’s webpage (http://olathe.clearpointstrategy.com/) can now access an interactive dashboard that tracks more than 30 performance measures of city government, such as crime rates, city bond ratings, resident satisfaction with city parks, and tons of household waste recycled or otherwise diverted from the landfill. Some of these items are measured annually or semi-annually while others are measured quarterly.

David Twiddy: dtwiddy913@gmail.com

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