Drop zone for indoor skydiving building, unusual design concerns Overland Park officials

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- It's sky diving without the parachute or the airplane, and it could soon come to Overland Park if an indoor skydiving company gets the green light from city officials.

But the project hit a rough patch Monday night when City Council questioned plans for zoning, parking and the new building's unusual design at I-435 and Metcalf Avenue, where Dick Clark’s American Band Stand Grill used to sit.

The indoor sky-diving company, iFLY, has locations in big cities across the country and overseas, but the closest ones to the metro area are in Denver and Chicago.

“I’m not into sky diving myself, but I think it probably would be very popular,” said John Thompson, city councilman for Ward 5 in Overland Park. “I’ve got two college boys and when they return from college, I’m sure they’d be looking at that as a great opportunity to have some fun.”

The indoor sky-diving experience creates free fall conditions using big vertical wind tunnels that generate a wall-to-wall cushion of air that lets you float.

But that means the building requires a unique design with 60-foot high columns that look almost like a big H, and city council members like Thompson aren’t so sure the odd shape is a good idea in such a prime location.

iFly design renderings provided to FOX 4 by the City of Overland Park.

iFly design renderings provided to FOX 4 by the City of Overland Park.

“If it is viable in the future, fine,” Thompson said of the business. “But if it isn’t, what’s going to be done about that building? Or does it become an albatross?”

Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach said the city's legal staff also has more questions.

“Well if it doesn’t make it, is there a way that the city can have the company guarantee that they’ll take the building down, or at least make it into a usable building?” he said.

Zoning and parking are also concerns.

“Those are all issues that the council is responsible for evaluating and getting answers to before they make a final decision,” Gerlach said.

So instead of voting on the plan Monday night, the City Council voted to send it back to the Planning Commission, where all the details must be hammered out. It’s a delay, but Mayor Gerlach remains optimistic.

“I’d love to be one of the first ones into the building,” he said. “This is an exciting thing.”

The project will likely come back before the City Council for a vote in early April.

Fox 4 called iFLY’s corporate office in Texas for their input on the Overland Park plans, but the people in charge of this project were unavailable Monday afternoon.