Hundreds pack meeting to weigh in on fate of vacant Metcalf South Mall

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Emotions run high when the community talks about the future of the now vacant Metcalf South Shopping Mall in Overland Park.

The latest round in the controversial development project in the Metcalf corridor happened when Overland Park's planning commission was set to vote on a proposal for the major project, and staff was recommending a no vote. Late in the afternoon commissioners decided to postpone their decision.

Developers want to put a giant retail store here in this empty shopping mall area, but opponents say not so fast.

On Monday afternoon it was standing room only in the Overland Park council chambers. Almost 200 people packed the room in order to weigh in on a multi-million dollar project designed to breathe new life into the dead Metcalf South Shopping Mall area.

"This is a really good thing," said Overland Park resident Richard Tevis.

But, Tevis insists the $320 million project, which may feature new restaurants, luxury apartments, entertainment and more, will be bad for residents.

"Our taxes are gonna go up. Any commerce that's gonna be there is gonna be more expensive than other cities around us,” said Tevis.

"I believe it will enhance my property values. Two is I think it will entice excitement into the area,” said Paul Potts, of Overland Park.

Lane 4 Property Group of Kansas City and its Columbia-based partner, the Kroenke Group are the developers behind the huge project, which would be located at one of the metro's busiest intersections near Metcalf and 95 West.

Their recommendations focus on putting in a giant big-box retail store as part of the development, which many opponents just don't want.

Monday, the planning commission pushed back voting on a proposal for rezoning. Some residents still fear the developers have already decided.

"None of our leasing people are talking to anybody about even a real estate committee coming next week to look at it, so we haven't decided,” said Owen Buckley, Lane 4 Property Group.

The planning commission will meet again later this month, at which time it will likely vote on the rezoning proposal. That must happen before it goes to the full council.