Thursday, September 26, 2013

RED Updates Grandview Aldermen on Truman's Marketplace

By Mary Wilson
The Grandview Board of Aldermen heard from developers of the shopping center formerly known as Truman Corners at their work session on Tuesday, September 17.  A change in the name of the development from Truman’s Landing to Truman’s Marketplace occurred previously, and last spring, a transfer agreement was completed naming RED Legacy as the developer of the project.

According to attorney Joe Lauber, serving as special counsel for tax increment and economic development financing, the total project cost was originally $91.3 million. That total overall cost has dropped to $83.4 million. The developer’s portion of costs has dropped from $38.6 million down to $28.2 million. The third-party portion went from $11.3 million up to $15.4 million.

“What’s really going on there, is since the time of the TIF plan originally through to this point, the major anchor store that was originally part of the development would be acquired by the developer, and in turn be built by the
developer and then leased or sold back to the major anchor store. In this case, the major anchor store is going to take care of that part of the development on their own, so you’ll see that shift from developer costs to third party costs.”

The final component of that would be the public financing portion, which went from $41.3 million down to $39.4 million. There was a project added to the development plans, with a total of thirteen projects slated. The primary plan, with the developer redeveloping the major anchor store area, included the portion of the land that Milberger’s Pest Control sits on. Because the major anchor store will be developing their own site, RED Legacy doesn’t need to expand into that portion of the project right away, and created a project 13.

“At this point in time, we’re not sure that it will even be necessary. We’re putting that in a holding pattern. The projected completion date for that portion of the project, “Project 13,” is 2020.”

The bulk of the development, however, is slated to be finished by 2015. According to Lauber, the public financing portion of the development is on the high side when compared to other developments in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

“The more critical a development is to a city, the more likely it is that the city will participate more,” said Lauber. “Here we’ve got a situation where this is a gateway project for the city. This is a priority for the city to get redeveloped and to remediate the blight that’s out there.”

With Sam’s Club leaving Grandview next month, the city and developers are aware of the large sales tax hole that will be created. With this significant reduction in revenues, plans need to be in place to compensate for the loss. The original RED Legacy plan entailed the entire shopping center being demolished and redeveloped from the ground up. The revised plan that developers presented to the Board of Aldermen last week included a remodel, rather than a
brand new facility, for the Price Chopper store currently located in the center, as well as updates to other current tenants. Everything south of the current grocery store will be demolished.

“We really would appreciate the grocery store being bigger,” said Ward 2 Alderman Leonard Jones. “That’s the downside. The same footprint is a tougher pill to swallow.”

RED Legacy Vice President of Development and Design Bart Lowen spoke to the board regarding the developer’s changes to the original proposal, as well as their plans to move forward to begin implementation of the design. According to Lowen, the entire property, aside from one outer parcel, is under RED Legacy contract.

“All the things that we need to do in order to get the private side financing lined up, which allows us to get the public side of financing, we’re getting close,” said Lowen.

RED Legacy was able to secure the commitmentnof the major anchor tenant store. This store will be doing their own building, on the current Sam’s Club property.

“We did everything in our power to keep Sam’s at the site,” said Dan Lowe, CCIM, Managing Partner of RED Legacy. “It became clear early on that they weren’t going to stay, but frankly, it becomes a bigger win for us. Overall, the things that were causing the most tension in this project have become some of the things that have turned out the best so far.”

The newest site plan is primarily the same lineup of retailers as before. The only major change is the fact that Price Chopper, along with a few other current tenants, will be staying in their locations. Those that are staying will see significant fa├žade improvements, as well as interior design improvements, when the project is complete.

Senior Vice President of Leasing for RED Legacy Joanna Shawver has been responsible for tenant agreements for the new development. According to Shawver, there are only two spaces in the center that are not committed, which is fairly common for a shopping center of this size. All other spaces are currently in active negotiation with RED Legacy to open in the fall of 2014.

“By active negotiation, I mean those talking about a letter of intent, an active letter of intent, or are fully committed and going through the process of the lease,” said Shawver. “Well over ninety-five percent of the spaces are spoken
for, or we’re having serious conversations about them.”

Since RED Legacy attended the International Shopping Centers Convention in May, this project has taken off, according to Shawver. A lot of store names previously discussed are coming to fruition.

“You’re going to have a major pet store,” said Shawver. “You’re going to have a major shoe store that’s not in the market. You’re going to have a variety of apparel stores that are not presently in Grandview, South Kansas City,
are not in Belton, and not in Raymore. You’re going to have an art supply store.”

Some food establishments currently lined up include a deli, coffee shop, and Mexican restaurant. RED Legacy is also working with full-service, sit-down restaurants, such as a steakhouse, or Italian restaurant, for the pad sites.

“The momentum that we started is really panning  out,” said Shawver. “We’re excited about the new tenants,
and we’re thrilled to retain some tenants that are already here.”

The commitment from a large discount retailer for the major anchor of the project, according to Shawver, has greatly impacted the commitments from other smaller retail stores who are known to surround themselves around that major anchor. The major tweak to the initial RED proposal is the closing on the land. The prior contract stated that RED Legacy had to close on the land in order to issue the bonds. RED Legacy asked the board last week to allow that to happen simultaneously.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hickman Mills Unveils First Draft of One-Year Blueprint

By Paul Thompson

The Hickman Mills C-1 school district has laid down a path towards full accreditation in 2014.

The C-1 administration unveiled eight priorities, complete with achievable goals, in the freshly minted one-year blueprint they presented to the Board of Education during a Tuesday, September 10 work session.

The district garnered just 51.8% of the possible points under the first year of MSIP 5, the state of Missouri’s updated standards for accreditation. The district would need to garner 70% of the points to earn fully accredited status. The one-year blueprint, and the action items within it, was designed to serve as a living document that could help keep
the district focused on obtaining their goals over the next year. The district blueprint will also serve as a guideline for developing subsequent plans at each of the district’s individual buildings.

“Once this blueprint is approved, then the buildings will be in charge of developing a system that mirrors that,” said C-1 superintendent Dr. Dennis Carpenter. “We’re trying to operate as a school system.”

The priorities outlined in the blueprint have been broken down into eight distinct categories, each with its own action items and goals. Among the eight priorities, the district has resolved to (1) ensure full accreditation, (2)
increase academic achievement, (3) improve student attendance, (4) improve faculty and staff attendance, (5) improve safety and discipline, (6) attract, retain, and ensure the professional development of highly qualified teachers and staff, committed to increased  student achievement and more effective teaching, (7) develop and coordinate capital improvement plans in the areas of facilities and technology that support continuous improvement,
and lastly, (8) to ensure the funding of priorities through an ongoing, coordinated approach to district budgeting.

Carpenter encouraged any feedback from the board during the presentation, with the hope that he and his staff could make the requisite adjustments to the blueprint in time to be approved at the Thursday, September 19 regular Board of Education work session. The board obliged, especially when the topic came to the district’s stated priority to ‘improve safety and discipline’ during the school year.

In the wake of a September 5 attack by a parent against a kindergarten teacher at Truman Elementary, board members displayed grave concerns about the safety practices used within the district. Board member Shawn
Kirkwood noted that in the previous few weeks, he had been able to get into various district buildings easily, without identifying himself as a member of the school board.

“I’m being let in the school blindly,” said Kirkwood. “On a day-by-day basis, the protocols aren’t being kept.”

One of the goals described within the safety portion of the one-year blueprint, presented by C-1 Executive Director of Operations Steven Meyers, revealed that the district had already planned to put together a Safety Committee headed by Director of Security Sgt. Russ Dykstra. Dykstra would work with administrators to raise safety awareness and develop new safety strategies. Meyers added that the committee’s first step would be to investigate “the processes of dealing with angry parents.”

 But board member Darrell Curls said that he wasn’t willing to wait for a committee to come up with an acceptable

“I want to know what we have done, and what we are doing immediately,” said Curls. “I want something brought to this board ASAP. We have to take care of our buildings and our people. If we don’t, shame on us, because somebody is going to be tremendously injured next time.”

Board member Breman Anderson Jr. expressed a similar sentiment.

“We’re all very concerned about situations that have taken place in the recent past, especially as it relates to last week,” said Anderson. “We have to have some type of plan that really encompasses the whole school in general.”

Superintendent Carpenter acknowledged that the issue was serious, but maintained that the district’s safety protocols
weren’t overlooked on the day of the incident.

“I will tell you on that particular afternoon, every protocol that we have was followed,” said Carpenter. “I just want you to know that this is serious business for us. On this particular day, there was no gap.”

Among some of the other stated district goals for the next year are to institute Mathematics and English Language Arts benchmarking, to begin taking part in Truancy Court, to increase retention of certified and non-certified staff by 3%, and to earn ten out of ten MSIP 5 district attendance points after earning zero in the first year of the MSIP 5 cycle.

“The way Missouri looks at (attendance) is minute by minute by minute,” explained Associate Superintendent
of School Improvement and Accountability Casey Klapmeyer. “Anytime they’re gone, those minutes accumulate. Our goal this year is 82% of our students at 90% attendance or better. That would get us to six status points, and in terms of what we would get in terms of progress, that will get us to ten out of ten.”

Although the blueprint is not expected to be finalized until the regular board session of September 19, board Vice President Dan Osman thanked the administration for their efforts in compiling the district’s priorities for the coming year.

“Thank you Dr. Carpenter, thank you administration, and thank you to staff for helping out with this,” said Osman. “This is the first time in two and a half years that I have seen measurable goals for the district.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kansas City Gets $10 Million TIGER Grant, Grandview Misses Out

By Paul Thompson

Kansas City has just secured a $20 million federal grant that will make a downtown streetcar a reality.

The Department of Transportation announced $474 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal grants last Thursday, September 5, and Kansas City’s $20 million for their proposed downtown streetcar was the largest approved project. 52 projects in 37 states were accepted, after almost $9 billion of TIGER funds were applied for.

“We’re on a roll in Kansas City and the taxpayers in our community can be pleased and proud that what we’re doing here is being recognized nationally,” said U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II in a Thursday press release. “This tremendous grant will bring new jobs, new business growth, and a renewed sense of community and progress to the already invigorated region.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the city of Grandview saw their $14 million TIGER request passed over. Grandview Public Works Director Dennis Randolph had requested the funds in order to build vehicle and pedestrian
bridges across I-49. The idea would be to increase connectivity to the city that is split in half by the interstate. Although Grandview did not get the funding they were hoping for this time, Randolph said that the city would still benefit from having the project ready to go if and when another grant opportunity presents itself.

“One of the things I’ve been trying to do over the past couple of years, as we go after grants, is to get a package of projects available,” said Randolph. “You always have to have a list of projects that you can apply for. If you’re ready, it makes it a lot easier to jump through all the hoops.”

Randolph noted that the need for connectivity across I-49 is only going to increase over the next several years, as development continues along Main Street, Truman’s Marketplace, and 150 Highway. As those developments proceed, the city’s chances of earning a significant connectivity grant should increase exponentially. And Randolph will not rest until his project becomes a reality.

“The justification keeps going up,” said Randolph. “Those were nice projects, and they tell a compelling story. But our story is only going to get better over the next four or five years. We’re ready. I’m not going to stop until we get the money.”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Grandview Roars Back Against Oak Park

By Paul Thompson

Jerel Alexander scored five touchdowns and rumbled for 302 yards in Grandview’s frenetic 55-40 season-opening victory last Friday night against Oak Park.
In a matchup that Grandview head coach Andy Leech figured would be a defensive showcase, the two teams combined for 95 points and almost 700 yards of offense.
“It totally flipped the script for me. We were going to win 3-0,” said Leech with a smile. “That was the plan. We were going to sit on that defense, and hope to score a couple of times on offense.”
That plan was quickly dashed after Grandview got off to a sluggish start. The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff in the contest, but couldn’t manage a first down in their initial possession. After a wayward punt netted zero yards, Oak Park took over and swiftly punched in the game’s first score.
Following another stalled Grandview drive, Oak Park once again scored a quick touchdown, which was capped off by a long run from running back Marquis Caldwell. With more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Bulldogs had already dug themselves a 14-point deficit.
“It’s the first game, there are first game jitters,” said Leech. “Our kids weren’t disciplined enough to read their keys. We’ve been preparing for it for ten months, and it finally gets here; it’s a little much.”
The Bulldogs, however, finally settled down after Oak Park’s first two scores. Grandview utilized a strong return on the ensuing kickoff from Ryone Winters to help orchestrate the team’s first touchdown drive of the season, culminating in a 22 yard scamper from the aforementioned Alexander. The long touchdown run ignited Grandview’s offense, and instilled a healthy dose of confidence in Grandview’s inexperienced offensive line.
After the game Leech lauded the efforts of his young line, which battled back from the inconsistent start to pave the way for Alexander’s explosive night.
“The offensive line blew me away,” said Leech. “It wasn’t pretty, and they made mistakes, but they made them playing hard. That’s what you want. Hopefully they’ll continue to get better, and continue to make holes for those guys.”
Alexander had similar praise for his blockers following the best performance of his high school career.
“I don’t want to take all the credit,” said Alexander. “Obviously I couldn’t do it without my o-line. They really stepped up. We’ve got a lot of first-year starters, and I just couldn’t do it without them. I have to give a lot of thanks to those big guys up front.”
Those lineman helped give the Bulldogs the lead in the second quarter, when Alexander ripped off touchdown runs of 73 and 79 yards, respectively, to give the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead. But the scoring was not even close to complete.
Oak Park stayed competitive throughout the contest despite not attempting a pass for the entire game. The Northmen utilized a series of disguised runs, from reverses to running back handoffs, to confound the Bulldog defense throughout the game. Oak Park quarterback Malquan Scott set the tone, rushing 11 times for 80 yards on the night, including a 56-yard touchdown run that tied the game with four minutes left in the first half.
Alexander, though, scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a short run from the Wildcat formation before the end of the half, allowing the Bulldogs to go into the break with a 27-21 lead. Alexander said that the Wildcat had just been added to the team’s repertoire before the opener.

We actually just put that in two weeks ago, just to kind of throw off the defense,” said Alexander. “I’m following the other tailback, which is (Jaavon Turner), through the hole. It was working at practice, so we tried it in a game.”

Although Grandview was ultimately able to pull away in the second half, that doesn’t mean that things were easy. Oak Park continued to punch holes in the Bulldog defense, taking advantage of Grandview’s aggressiveness. The Bulldogs incurred more than a dozen penalties in the game, including a half-dozen encroachment penalties and several costly personal fouls. After the game, Leech was not happy with his team’s undisciplined play.

“We’re going to have a pretty rough week of practice,” said Leech. “It turned into backyard football, and it’s not backyard football.”

Grandview managed to put the game away with a series of quick scores beginning late in the third quarter. Alexander scored his fifth and final touchdown on a 35-yard run with two minutes left in the third, before Ryone Winters returned a kickoff for a touchdown that put the Bulldogs up for good. Quarterback Darrian Aldridge sealed the deal late in the fourth quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run, and Grandview’s defense put an ironic exclamation point on the victory by returning a fumble for a touchdown in the closing seconds to finish off the 15-point win.
The victory will be one to remember for Alexander.

“I’ve never scored five touchdowns in a game,” he said. “Maybe in little league, but not on varsity.”