In the foreseeable future, the $4 billion Panasonic Energy Co. Ltd. electric-vehicle battery plant might represent just the tip of the iceberg for the long-awaited remake of the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in De Soto.
Sunflower Redevelopment Group has mapped out future land uses beyond the Japanese conglomerate’s footprint in the balance of the 9,035-acre site, which the partnership has owned since 2005 and in the fall renamed Astra Enterprise Park.
No Wizard of Oz theme park is in the cards this time, but the vast swaths of land Sunflower has set aside for projects — and preservation — nevertheless promise significant new vitality for the former World War II powder and propellant plant.
“We’re hoping, in the next five or six years, that you’ll see a material change in the landscape out there,” said John DeHardt, managing principal of Kansas City-based Kessinger/Hunter & Co. LC, a member of Sunflower alongside RESIGHT Holdings LLC of Littleton, Colorado, and Midland Properties Inc. of Mission Woods.
Perhaps the largest plurality of Astra Enterprise Park — in the 2,000- to 3,000-acre range in its central and southern sections — is earmarked for a utility-scale solar farm by Savion LLC. The Kansas City-based solar builder has evaluated and met with De Soto officials about a prospective project on the property since late 2021.
At the time, city officials said such a project could be at least five years away due to regulatory approvals but would generate significant electric franchise fees and local property taxes.
In June, Johnson County commissioners devised new parameters for large-scale solar projects, and De Soto has continued reviewing a local ordinance that would allow those developments exclusively in the former Sunflower plant with a special-use permit.
Read more in the Kansas City Business Journal.