De Soto has roughly 1,300 apartments planned as the Johnson County suburb prepares to handle the coming $4 billion Panasonic plant.

Prairie Village-based Flint Development and Lawrence-based Alcove Development are the biggest apartment builders in the city so far, with 1,284 units combined, though additional builders have other plans in the works. 

Dustin Baker, a partner at Alcove Development and a De Soto resident, said it’s the first time in his lifetime that the city has had this many apartment projects planned at once.

According to the 2020 census, De Soto has 6,118 residents. Panasonic’s underway electric-vehicle battery manufacturing plant plans to employ 4,000 at the Astra Enterprise Park (formerly Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant). Production is planned to ramp up by 2025.

“It’s not like there was apprehension of council members or planners or a lack of desire to include different types of housing — it was more of an economic issue,” Baker said.

“The announcement of Panasonic, the need for additional housing and the speed at which we need the housing in the area, made it obvious that De Soto needs an economic environment where apartments can be economically viable. I think city leadership, staff and council members have grasped that and latched on to it. But that probably won’t last forever.”

Brad Weisenburger, the city’s planning and capital projects director, previously said that De Soto’s “small-town feel” is one of the city’s core values, which every approved housing project aims to reflect.

Read more in the Kansas City Business Journal.