Friday, March 11, 2011

New Bannister Plan Submitted

By Andrea Wood 
Lane4 is back with a new plan for the redevelopment of the Bannister area.
The Trails’ new plan, submitted last week to the Kansas City TIF Commission, calls for 1.6 million square feet of office space surrounding a lake, some 1.2 million square feet of retail, a potential 385-unit apartment or residential complex and a possible hotel.
The hole in the plan left by the subtraction of the soccer stadium and fields is filled in conceptually by “big box” retail facing I-435 and increased space for office complexes.
“The most interesting spark of this revised plan is the incubator space created for the next generation of innovative companies in Kansas City,” said Tim Weaver, Vice-President of Lane4 Property Group. “Those businesses will want places for their employees to shop and eat, so there will be a natural interplay between the retail and office portions of the plan. Combined, this could be a real nucleus of job creation.”
Weaver noted that Cerner, whose CEO Neal Patterson and Vice-Chairman Cliff Illig are among the development group for The Trails, still has 100 acres of the project under contract. City officials have voiced strong support for a potential Cerner campus as part of The Trails.
As part of the new submission to the TIF Commission, Illig and Patterson wrote a letter of support for The Trails, stating that they have invested some $35 million the in project, including land acquisition and the demolition of Bannister Mall.
Developers are asking for less in city and state tax incentives--$191 million for the revised plan, compared to the $273 million requested in the original plan.
“The TIF amendment is an important next step,” Weaver said. “It will take the tenant interest we have now and make it more concrete.”
He encouraged residents to voice support for The Trails’ new plan, and one resident is already vocal about his approval.
“I fully support the revised Trails development plan,” said Lou Austin, director of the 3-Trails Village Community Improvement District. “It updates the now obsolete soccer stadium plan and permits incremental development by multiple developers which greatly expands realistic development opportunities.”
The development is broken into several pieces. Phase A includes three “projects.”
Project 1 focuses on the area where Bannister Mall once stood. It features 812,500 square feet in retail, primarily undetermined “big box” stores.
Project 2 includes 254,000 square feet of retail, including smaller stores and strip-mall type spaces.
Project 3, which overlooks I-435 and connects with 87th Street, includes 100,000 square feet for a potential hotel, and an additional 113,000 square feet of retail.
Phase B of The Trails is located between Hillcrest Road and the Kansas City Southern rail line, and encompasses the former Hypermart building, as well as Benjamin Stables.
Project 4 is dominated by 1.6 million in office complexes, surrounding a lake.
Project 5, the final piece runs along the KC Southern rail line to 87th Street, and calls for four residential buildings with a total of 385 units and a clubhouse.
Phase C, located along 93rd Street and south to Bannister Road, includes a station along the Kansas City Southern rail line, if it were to be included as part of a proposed rapid-rail plan for Jackson County. Currently, federal funding is being used to study the feasibility rail lines stretching east into Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit. A southern line along existing KCS tracks is also part of the proposed rapid-rail plan.
“Long term it is indeed my opinion that the rail potential will not only anchor the development along with a good chunk of South Kansas City, but that it will create the real possibility for sustainable and efficient development that is economically resilient over time,” Austin said. “The rail piece is the ultimate solution – everything else is just short term and transitional – and will not turn South Kansas City’s decline around.”
The TIF Commission has scheduled The Trails hearing for April 13th.
In the meantime, Lane4 is working to improve the Bannister area with additional demolitions. Their website for The Trails states:
“Several older vacant buildings along Bannister Road, and part of the former Bannister Mall project, are coming down! In January, demolition began on the old fire station # 41. While dodging two snowstorms, crews were still able to plow forward. The former Red Lobster and Blockbuster Video buildings are next on the demolition list. Demolition work will continue in the coming months. By removing these ‘eyesore’ buildings and by cleaning up the area we are setting the canvas for beautification of the streetscape along Bannister Road. As the project moves forward plans will be implemented for the new landscaping and new buildings.”

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