Shawnee & Lenexa

Shawnee moves forward on retail/restaurant plan

New hope blossomed in Shawnee this week for development of a troublesome corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road.

On Monday, the Shawnee City Council discussed a funding agreement with a developer hoping to transform the property into a retail and restaurant center.

The council agreed to accept a funding agreement with the developer, Bellmont Promenade LLC, which is a first step toward the eventual application for a tax increment financing package. Under the agreement, Bellmont will pay the city $20,000 for a study on whether tax incentives would be feasible.

“It’s exciting to see a project of this scope, especially with that southwest corner,” said Council Member Brandon Kenig. “I know we’ve struggled to develop that for a while now.” Kenig also said he was happy to see the mixed-use plan for the site.

The council voted 6-2 to accept the agreement to hire a consultant, with little discussion. Council members Mike Kemmling and Eric Jenkins voted against it. Both said afterward they were not against the specific development plan, but disliked the idea of tax incentives on principal.

“Things are getting out of line with TIFs,” Jenkins said, noting the incentive packages deny increased tax revenue to other entities. “They’re killing the school districts,” he said.

The vote does not obligate the city to any future public financing agreement the developer may ask for.

Tax increment financing is a development incentive that lets developers use some of the future sales or property tax money generated by the project to pay some of the development costs.

Bellmont Promenade, LLC, hopes to put in a retail and restaurant center on the southwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road. The center would include 190,000 square feet of inline retail, 25,000 square feet of pad sites, 18,000 square feet of office and 22,000 square feet of small shops.

The developer has said the site will require some extra costs to develop. To that end, Bellmont is expected to ask for both a property and sales tax TIF and a community improvement district. Community improvement districts typically add a special sales tax within the defined area to be used for development costs.

The city has been trying for over a decade to get the last corner of an otherwise busy area near Interststate 435 and Shawnee Mission Parkway developed and open for business.

Although other parts of the intersection have such big retailers as Wal-Mart Supercenter, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot, the southwest corner has stubbornly remained undeveloped, due in part to its difficult terrain. Most recently, the Shawnee Landing development fizzled in 2015 due to a variety of factors, including cost of development.

One big impediment — the accessibility of sewer service — generated controversy for Shawnee Landing. Residents along Bell Road, which runs from the development southward and downhill, were adamantly opposed to sewer lines that would have meant the destruction of much of the wooded area near their homes.

Those residents were on septic systems and would have had to pay a hefty fee to hook up to the line. But the neighborhood has been negotiating their concerns and an agreement might be in the works.

The council also discussed a plan for two medical facilities near 68th Terrace and Anderson Street that will be leased by the Veteran’s Administration.

The city agreed to reimburse Highlands Development LLC for building costs due to the difficulty of building on the rock base. The city will pay $300,000 with some restrictions. The money will be paid on completion and leasing of the buildings, with at least 80 percent occupancy of each building within five years. Highlands also cannot ask for other public funding.

The building will take place on two parcels of land — one of which Highlands already owns in the Shawnee Crossings development and another that will be purchased nearby.

Highlands plans to put up one $16 million building of 30,000 square feet and another $2.5 million building of about 12,000 square feet. The development is expected to add 50 new jobs to the area serving around 20,000 patients a year, according to city documents.