Overland Park & Leawood

Mixed-use development for 135th Street reviewed by Leawood council

Leawood’s City Council got a peek at the future Monday evening.

Council members discussed a master plan for the city’s section of 135th Street, a major east-west thoroughfare that may someday serve as the community’s most important roadway.

Sidewalks? Businesses? Shops and homes? All in the same neighborhood. They’re all on the table and part of a major study presented to the council Monday.

The blueprint — prepared at a cost of $130,000 — calls for a mixed-use development of condominiums, shops, offices and other uses.

The idea: provide opportunities for young and older residents to enjoy the city, with walking paths and gathering places next to restaurants and stores.

Mixed-use projects aren’t new to Leawood.

“People are used to this kind of development now, with the success of Park Place in Leawood,” said Mayor Peggy Dunn.

Today, Leawood’s section of 135th Street is a six-lane arterial roadway carrying 30,000 to 35,000 vehicles a day. That traffic is expected to grow as homes and business expand into south Johnson County.

But “sidewalks are intermittent,” the study says, potentially hindering a mixed-use development.

There has been some construction in the corridor, the study found, largely between Roe and Nall avenues and at the Mission Road intersection. But 83 percent of the land near the roadway is undeveloped or used for agriculture. And 13 percent of the land area is devoted to places of worship.

That leaves about 4 percent of the current land use for retail businesses.

The consultants said that number will grow if the city acts to bring the area together in a cohesive unit.

Zoning along 135th Street defines and shapes the corridor, the consultants said, but the “missing piece is an element that guides the community’s desired transition … to the potentially higher-density mixed-used areas along 135th” Street.

The study also found there’s room for more quality-of-life modifications.

The consultants suggested ways to modernize the corridor: bicycle lanes, medians, more trees and other plantings, wider sidewalks to accommodate more pedestrians and rest areas with trees, water features and seating.

The plan has received initial good notices from the council, and the public, in part because they helped draft the report.

“We had good cooperation from a number of citizens,” said Britt Palmberg of Denver’s Design Workshop. They put out notices for the public to attend planning meetings last year.

The other members of the team were San Francisco-based Nelson Nygaard, Kansas City’s Burns and McDonnell and Lenexa’s Shockey Consulting.

The study cost about $130,000, with $34,000 coming from Leawood and $96,000 from a federal grant.

The Leawood City Council got about halfway through the study with the consultants. Together, they’ll finish the presentation March 17.

The city encouraged Leawood citizens to come to Monday’s meeting, but only one resident attended and left after half an hour.

Public support for whatever happens along the corridor will be critical, though, because major change is coming to 135th Street.

“It’s time,” Dunn said. “The last time we studied and planned 135th Street was in 1990.”

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