Archive for Friday, March 6, 2015

Developers cancel proposed Shawnee Landing project

The preliminary site plan for Shawnee Landing near the southwest corner of Maurer Road and Shawnee Mission Parkway.

The preliminary site plan for Shawnee Landing near the southwest corner of Maurer Road and Shawnee Mission Parkway.

March 6, 2015

— The last undeveloped corner of Maurer Road and Shawnee Mission Parkway will continue to sit vacant as the developers behind Shawnee Landing have canceled their commercial project plans.

In an letter sent to City Manager Carol Gonzales Thursday, the developers' attorney Curt Petersen said the site's development and acquisition costs, less-than-expected leasing revenue and a challenging development schedule combined to weaken the "feasible return on our significant investment."

"This reality is particularly disappointing to our team as we had anticipated that the requested public financing package would be sufficient to address the inherent challenges of this site," Petersen wrote in his letter. "But ultimately that proved not to be the case."

Shawnee Landing's developers SMPW Fund I, LLC, which included the partnership of Dan Carr of the Kansas City-based development firm CBC Real Estate Group, were seeking $23.8 million worth of city tax incentives for the proposed commercial development. The city was originally set to vote on the first of those incentives in February but the developers postponed the hearing until March. Now, all requests for Tax Increment Financing and a Transportation Development District have been terminated. In Peterson's letter to Gonzales, he thanked the city staff and governing body for its "professionalism and efficiency" on the project throughout the process.

"It's obviously a big disappointment," Gonzales said. "We put a lot of heart and time into this. But that's why we go through this process, so that everything can be considered. Unfortunately in this case it didn't end up working out."

Gonzales said that a tight timeline based on the needs of the anchor tenant posed some challenges for the developer. Gonzales and the developer didn't confirm who the main tenant was slated to be, but reports surfaced last month that the main tenant of the $56 million retail center would be Dick's Sporting Goods. Council member Jeff Vaught, who works in real estate development, publicly announced the news on his Facebook page on Feb. 9.

The $56 million Shawnee Landing project was to include 145,000 square feet of inline retail and seven pad sites totaling roughly 33,000 more square feet on the 26-acre property. Reports were that tenants for all of the seven pad sites, mostly restaurants, were in the first steps of signing with the developers before the project fell through.

Residents in the area, specifically along Bell Road, have long been fighting against portions of the developers proposal, including a 55-foot retaining wall on the southern edge of the property. They have also opposed the creation of a Johnson County Wastewater contract sewer district for the property, and resident Richard Travers has sued the county on claims that they didn't follow proper procedure in establishing the contract district. The lawsuit remains in Johnson County District Court, and a hearing for the county's motion to dismiss the case is set for March 18.

The proposed gravity sewer line is currently designed to run along a stream in the area. Residents have complained that the construction of the line would destroy hundreds of trees and the natural habitat and scenery of the area, potentially lessening the values of their properties.

The City of Shawnee spent $110,000, something rarely done by municipalities, to help cover a portion of the costs of the creation of the district because of the importance of the land for retail and commercial use.

"We started that process before (Shawnee Landing) came along and we believe they chose the property because of that," Gonzales said.

The news of the developers' decision to terminate the Shawnee Landing project has been circulating through the development community, and Gonzales said the city has already received some calls from potentially interested groups.

A retail study performed by the Shawnee Economic Development Council (EDC) two years ago showed that the location is one of Shawnee's three premier spots for retail due to its proximity to Interstate 435 and Shawnee Mission Parkway. The other corners of the intersection are occupied by big-box retailers Home Depot, Target and Lowe's Home Improvement. Andrew Nave, the executive director of the EDC, said it will remain a priority for the city to pursue a commercial development at the site.

"Having commercial development along the 435 corridor is crucial for us because so much is happening south of us in Lenexa and north of us at The Legends," Nave said.

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