Overland Park residents concerned about proposed development near old Sears property

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Enough is enough. That's the message residents who live near the old Sears property in Overland Park gave their city council Monday.

The store was part of the former Metcalf South Mall, most of which ceased operating by 2014. Those residents fear a plan to build a high-rise apartment building on the Sears property could ruin their home values.

Monday afternoon, the council's planning committee approved a rezoning request made by Ohio-based developer Seritage Growth Properties, which asked city leaders to change that 18-acre plot from being classified as retail to high-rise residential. The plan would revamp the empty Sears building into more than 300 apartment units. However, several neighbors are against it, fearing another four-to-five story apartment structure will lower the value of their homes.

Seritage's plan would also include retail space, including a grocery store and a gas station.

"Nothing over three stories. Nothing over three stories," Carmen Linderman-Vanbooven, who lives near the Sears property, said. "What about your property value? What do you think is going to happen to that?"

Linderman-Vanbooven said it's the height of the proposed building that concerns her and other nearby homeowners. Developer Jeff Martin, who represents Seritage, told Overland Park's Planning Commission his building is smaller than one about a block away. It's commissioned by a different development firm, and it's already under construction.

"Four stories, and you`re getting into a building that's as tall as the tallest trees behind us," Linderman-Vanbooven said. "Solstice at sunset? That will be completely shaded. We'll never see the sun again."

"We're actually at a lower height than they are. They're actually seven feet, from a topographic perspective, higher than we are and we sit below their elevation," Martin told the council.

Other residents also voiced concerns about roadways, and whether or not they can handle an uptick in traffic. Overland Park's full city council will hear the Seritage pitch on Nov. 4.

"This project is too close to the properties too dense. We don't have the infrastructure to take care of it. We need to quit building such large apartment complexes," Steven Glentzer, another neighbor, commented.

Under this plan, the old Sears auto center building, which sits closer to Metcalf Avenue, would be demolished. Martin said his firm held public meetings last year about this plan, and he's hopeful neighbors will buy into the benefits this will bring.

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