•by Stacy Wiedmaier
After countless hours of planning, strategic meetings and a two hour discussion at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting, Parkville city leaders have approved a preliminary plat site, development plan and rezoning for a project to be constructed at the southwest corner of 45 Hwy. and I-435.
The 67-acre vacant area will eventually offer commercial space, a 35-acre business park and mixed use development.
Residents for and against the proposal listened to the project architect’s presentation during which legal counsel, community development, a MoDOT official and architects explained their vision for the Vertical Ventures III site plan.
“This plan has evolved from the beginning into a very nice and thoughtful design that is logical. It’s not just a pie in the sky type of idea,” said Jim Bowers, legal counsel for the development. “This upscale planned business park will be considered the gateway to Parkville. Not only will it generate more development, but it will become a sales tax revenue for the city.”
Bowers said the design will incorporate a “campus like” feel with adjoining buildings surrounded by a walking trail system and park area. The natural topography of the site will be incorporated into the design as much as possible, saving natural elements such as trees, rolling hills, and stone walls.
The planning and zoning commission approved the business park this week. Thirteen buildings will be constructed for a mix of warehouse, office, and wholesale retail spots totaling 218,335 square feet. A convenience store has already committed to the site while the firm said they are in negotiations with other businesses.
One long time Parkville business owner has already decided he wants to move into two lots from his current location on Hwy. 9.
“I’ve had my eye on this area for some time,” said Miller’s Nursery owner Joe Miller. “I want to stay in Parkville and have enough room to expand, I can be a big part of making this new development work. It’s the only act in town for me.”
Miller pointed out what he considers the “two worst lots” of the bunch that he plans to professionally landscape to show potential customers what he is capable of. He said he currently must call a previous customer to gain permission and entrance to their private property to take customers for a tour. Having everything on site, including water features and brick sidewalks will be a plus, he said.
Alderman Marc Sportsman was concerned about the potential overflow of traffic to the area, but he was reassured MoDOT is currently reviewing a traffic study and an estimated 4,600 cars will flow through the area on a daily basis.
“We’ve always seen this corner of land as a development tool for the right firm that Parkville chooses to align with,” said Sportsman. “I support this preliminary plat and rezoning 100 percent.”
The entire board was not as supportive, saying local residents will gain nothing if this business park is constructed.
“I agree the northern part of this plat is great for the city,” said alderman Gerry Richardson. “But the southern part is not a good fit. Whatever you choose to call it, I still see this as an industrial park that residents will not benefit from in any way. It’s not a practical plan and I will vote against it.”
Mayor Kathy Dusenbery admitted this process, “has been difficult for both the city and developers,” and was very time consuming. Parkville resident Gary Gruerman stood to speak against the development, stating the firm was saying whatever they wanted to get their way.
“I almost fell out of my chair when I heard them promise to be ‘tree friendly,’” said Gruerman. “They will be sure to knock down 100 year old oaks. I also think they need to make this plan more publicly accessible, no one in the nearby estates I have talked to has any idea what they are proposing.
“I’ve lived at that southwest corner for 53 years and I hate to see them level the hill that offers a beautiful view of the airport and downtown Kansas City. It’s the second highest point in the county after Weston’s state park.”
Both the rezoning ordinance and the preliminary development plan passed 6-2, with Richardson and alderman Gia McFarlane opposing. Staff added certain conditions, including easement plans, guaranteeing storage areas are properly screened and the correct development standards are enforced.
No timeline has been set for the project and significant grading must occur before groundbreaking takes place. Parkville’s community development director, Sean Ackerson, said the firm must come back to the board with its final development plans before they proceed.