City council sets public hearing to consider retail center incentives
Shawnee Parkway Plaza will get a $17 million upgrade and local motorists will get another traffic light on Shawnee Mission Parkway if the City Council approves a developer’s plans — and $7.5 million in incentives — for the retail center.
During its Dec. 10 meeting, the council scheduled a Jan. 14 public hearing to consider creation of a tax increment financing district including the long-stagnant shopping center at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Pflumm Road.
If completed as planned, the proposed redevelopment of Shawnee Parkway Plaza would be the first tax increment financing, or TIF, project ever developed in Shawnee.
TIF is a development tool that captures increases in tax revenue generated by a project to reimburse developers for eligible project costs.
Shawnee Plaza Redevelopment LLC, which has a contract to purchase the 92,000-square-foot center, plans to seek city approval for $3.75 million in TIF. It would be generated by capturing, for about 15 years, increased property tax revenue resulting from the project and the 1 percent general portion of newly generated city sales tax revenue collected at the center. The city sales tax rate is currently 1.25 percent, but the .25 percent portion currently collected through the special Parks & Pipes and public safety sales taxes would not be diverted from city coffers.
Shawnee finance director Maureen Rogers noted that the developer was seeking TIF reimbursement equaling only about a third of the project’s $9.9 million in TIF-eligible expenses.
The developer, however, plans to seek another $3.75 million through another development tool: a transportation development district. The TDD would allow the sales tax rate paid by Shawnee Parkway Plaza shoppers to be raised by 1 percent for about 15 years, with the proceeds going toward transportation-related project expenses.
Those would include realignment of Midland Drive in front of the shopping center. Midland, which serves as a frontage road to eastbound Shawnee Mission Parkway in that area, would be moved closer to the shopping center as part of the redevelopment project. That would allow construction of a new signalized entrance road allowing easier access to the center for eastbound and westbound motorists on Shawnee Mission Parkway.
The realignment also would create space for the developer to add pad sites between Shawnee Mission Parkway and Midland, allowing the center to expand to 97,000 square feet despite the planned demolition of some current buildings in the center.
David Christie of Shawnee Plaza Redevelopment LLC said the traffic light and road realignment would correct access problems that have kept the shopping center largely vacant for years. Matt Pennington, his partner, added that the proposed access solutions had attracted “an overwhelming amount of attention from prospective tenants.”
Those include Nuts and Bolts, a hardware chain that plans to add a 30,000-square-foot location next to the Savers store in Shawnee Parkway Plaza. New restaurants, including regional and national chains, and an organic grocery store are among other potential tenants.
“We believe the project is 95 percent committed” pending city approval of the redevelopment plan, Christie said.
Andrew Nave, executive director of the Shawnee Economic Development Council, said he thought the project was “an ideal use for incentives.”
“It takes a shopping center in the community and improves it’s quality, takes it to a whole new level,” Nave said.
In addition to the current access issues, the center has suffered from out-of-town ownership that seemed content to stand pat due to payments made for years under terms of a long-term lease for the former Price Chopper space in the center, Nave said. Approval of the incentive package, he said, would put the center in the hands of local developers who have had success revitalizing several other retail properties in the region.
“That shopping center has remained largely vacant because of a real estate situation and access problems, not because of our market,” Nave added. “Now, with public assistance, we can kick it up another notch with the caliber of tenants the public can be proud of.”
Before tax increment financing can be approved for the project, the City Council must designate the shopping center site as a blighted area and determine that, without incentives, the proposed redevelopment could not be completed.
During an initial review of the project in August, Councilman Neal Sawyer said he would be opposed to incentives, like the TDD surcharge, that would make local shoppers pitch in for improvements.
During the Dec. 10 meeting, however, the council approved the public hearing on the project without discussion.