Overland Park & Leawood

Ranchmart project advances in Overland Park

The beautification of Ranchmart Shopping Center is closer to commencing.

At its meeting Monday evening, in a vote of 9-1, the Overland Park City Council approved the first step toward creating a Community Improvement District for the center, which sits on the southeast corner of 95th Street and Mission Road. The center is anchored by Ranchmart Ace Hardware and by the Leawood Theatre.

Commonly called a CID, such districts allow the city to levy an extra sales tax on the businesses to help pay for certain project costs. The Ranchmart project asks for a 1 cent sales tax.

The project includes the renovation of existing building facades, such as new tower elements, storefronts, building columns and canopies.

There also will be improvements related to hardscapes, amenities, curbs, parking lots and landscaping.

Councilman Paul Lyons disapproved of the financial incentive.

He told the council he didn’t think the project met the criteria the city recently set for granting CIDs, such as attracting regional retail development, constructing infrastructure beyond what the city would require, or promoting redevelopment within the city.

His fellow council members, however, disagreed.

“I see a shopping center as part of a city’s investment portfolio,” Councilman Fred Spears said.

Others saw the renovation as a necessity.

“It’s falling apart in the back and I think it’s important to keep it maintained,” said Councilwoman Terry Happer-Scheier.

Leawood also is considering a CID for the northern part of Ranchmart across 95th Street. The council earlier this month sent the proposal to the planning commission to be considered Nov. 25.

Also Monday at the Overland Park council meeting, the city’s new police chief, Frank Donchez, Jr., took the oath of office.

Donchez is the former police chief for Davenport, Iowa. Originally from Bethlehem, Pa., he is also a licensed attorney.