Ranchmart North, a much loved but aging shopping center at the northeast corner of 95th and Mission Road, would be redeveloped with modern architecture, landscaping and pedestrian-friendly features, under a concept approved by the Leawood City Council.
“It will be an entire rebirth of this great shopping center that is iconic and has been for the last 50 years, and I think with this plan it will be for the next 50 years,” development attorney Curt Petersen told the council, which voted unanimously Monday night for a rezoning and preliminary plan.
The plan calls for updating Price Chopper, the anchor tenant, with a new drive-thru pharmacy west of the main entrance. It also calls for demolishing a portion of the center, east of the grocery, for a pedestrian plaza area with landscaping and seating, plus a two-story office/retail building suitable for restaurants at the site’s northeast corner.
Other parts of the center would get more modern facades, and the parking lot would get new lighting, landscaped islands, additional trees and crosswalks to ease pedestrian access into the center. The developer would construct new sidewalks along Mission Road and along 95th Street.
But the council still must consider a final, more detailed plan, plus tax incentives in the form of a community improvement district sales tax to make the financing work. Those regulatory requests are expected in the first quarter of 2019. Petersen declined to say what the total investment will be until the budget and CID proposal are finalized.
Leawood City Council members Debra Filla and Andrew Osman, who represent Ward 1 where the center is located, were enthusiastic about the plans. Filla praised the intention to bury the utilities underground, saying, “That will be a great improvement.”
Osman recalled riding his bike to the center as a child years ago. “I feared for my life,” he said.
Now, as his own children ride their bikes in that part of town, Osman said they will find better connectivity and ease of access into the center with the planned improvements.
Osman noted various plans for the center have come and gone in recent years, but he said this one shows great promise.
“The neighborhood is very excited to have this project go forward,” he said.
The 17-acre Ranchmart North shopping center, sometimes known as “Ranch Mart North,” has been in existence since 1960 and was once best known for its bowling alley, Pumpernick’s, Taco Via and its country fair. It now includes the Cosentino’s Price Chopper, Duck Donuts, McDonald’s, a bank and the CareNow urgent care center. The Linwood Cemetery is in the southeast section.
Even before the shopping center upgrade is completed, Meat Mitch Barbecue is expected to go into the former Seasonal Concepts space east of the Price Chopper.
Ranchmart North is in Leawood, while Ranchmart South, just south of 95th and Mission, is in Overland Park. The two centers are different legal entities but owned by the same family headed by Bob Regnier, founder of the Bank of Blue Valley. Ranchmart South, which has an ACE Hardware Store, the Glenwood Arts Theater and Dewey’s Pizza, was updated about 10 years ago with a more traditional Craftsman architectural style.
Councilwoman Lisa Harrison said some neighbors have questioned why the Ranchmart North design calls for a more modern look, characteristic of Crate & Barrel and Apple stores.
But Chris Hafner, with the Davidson Architecture and Engineering firm, said the decision was to go with a sleeker, cleaner look and design.
“We felt a bold step was needed,” he said.
City planning staff and the developer are still haggling over such things as where trash bins for the restaurants will go, the look of the screening walls for the shopping center, and other details. But Petersen said those issues will be worked out as the center gets close to final design in a few months.
City Council members were generally optimistic about the center’s future, with this plan. They were also encouraged that the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is considering putting a bus stop on 95th Street, to benefit the center’s workers and customers.
If all goes as planned, the developer would get final approvals in the first quarter of 2019, with construction starting later in the year and completion in the latter half of 2020.