Overland Park planners recommend rejecting ‘big box store’ plan at former Metcalf South Mall location

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- No to a Wal-mart, or any other big box store: That's the message from the Overland Park planning staff on the eve of a planning commission showdown over an iconic Overland Park intersection.

It's the home to the now-vacant Metcalf South Shopping Mall, which had a vibrant past and now a $320 million mixed-use future designed to spruce up the Metcalf corridor.

The recommendation focuses on plans for a giant big-box retail store as part of the development.

Planning staff says that doesn't fit the Metcalf corridor vision and recommends the planning commission send developers back to the drawing board.

"I'm concerned for what`s happening in my community, what`s happening in my city, what`s happening around my home," says  Richard Tevis, who lives near 95th and Metcalf.

He's fine with a new vision for the area, but not fine with a big box store, or with taxpayers subsidizing the project.

"I don`t believe that if a private company comes into our town to redevelop their private property, that we should foot the bill," Tevis adds.

Planning  staff agrees on the Wal-mart type big box store - and recommends the planning commission reject the current plan.

"This intersection at 95th and Metcalf is critical to the city of Overland Park," says  Councilman Paul Lyons, who says the developers could go with a big box store if they want without a zoning change- but since they want other aspects, including incentives, that's unlikely.

"The incentives will be depending upon how the council feels that this particular development proposal meets the Vision Metcalf vision that was developed 4 or 5 years ago," Lyons says.

The recommendation focuses on a proposed 177,000 square foot big box retail store.

Because a Wal-Mart heir is a co-developer, critics worry that's what's planned- though developers won't comment on that.

"Socioeconomically I think it`s at the bottom of the spectrum as far as shopping centers go," says Tevis, "The smaller businesses that usually surround Wal-Mart are not good economic drivers."

Nothing is set in stone- development is a year away- and Council President Lyons says talks will continue.

"Planning staff has been working very closely with the applicants to encourage them to come forward with a proposal that comes as close to Vision Metcalf as possible," adds Lyons.

The developers -- Lane4 and partner, the Kroenke group, tell Fox4 a big box concept can help re-ignite the area and drive shoppers to the smaller businesses that would be part of the development.

A vocal critic has his own ideas...

"That would be a great location for Vision Metcalf - soccer fields, baseball fields...." says Tevis.

The developer will present a proposal to the planning commission on Monday.

All members of the community are welcome to attend and comment.

The planning commission has to approve that before it goes to the full council -which is expected to be some time in September.

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