Archive for Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Development invades Basehor

September 25, 2002

For years, the city of Basehor remained a quiet, bedroom community, tucked conveniently between Kansas City, Lawrence and Topeka.

Residents enjoyed the seclusion of small-town life, living close enough to big-city convenience, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle.

Ignored by most major developers, new residential homes and businesses skipped Basehor and instead went to areas such as Lenexa, Olathe and Shawnee.

Those cities learned to balance the pros and cons of development, sometimes through trial and error. Those cities went through new school construction, sewer expansion and road renovation.

All the while, Basehor sat comfortably away from the progress, left alone where small-town residents embodied and monopolized the city's slogan, "A little country near Kansas City."

But in 2000, growth slammed head on into one of the last metro-area holdouts, Basehor.

That year, Basehor began planning and building a wastewater treatment facility. News of the plant spread and developers listened.

"It began just about the time plans were being finalized and construction started," City Codes Administrator Mike Hooper said. "I think (not having a treatment plant) was the reason that nothing was happening for so long."

Two years later, with the seeds of development firmly planted, growth fills nearly every nook and cranny, every corner and vacant lot in the city.

Numbers tell the story.

At last count, Basehor had 894 homes. Almost double that number approximately 1,400 homes are in some stage of planning or construction right now.

"It's an astonishing number considering (the city's) history," said Dan Gutshall, Leavenworth Area Development director.

"Whether the community can absorb that many buildings remains to be seen," he added.

According to the latest Census survey, Basehor has a population of 2,200 residents. When and if the 1,400 potential homes are occupied, the population could increase to 7,000.

Historically developers have ignored commercial development in Basehor because of low markets. But an indicator that this has changed in recent months is the sheer number of commercial, industrial and retail development proposals filed at City Hall.

Developments such as Prairie Gardens, Prairie Lakes, Pinehurst, Falcon Lakes and the newly renovated Basehor shopping center all have space slated for commercial, industrial or retail use.

Further evidence of a growing community can bee seen with the construction of Sonic at 155th Street and State Avenue, the city's first fast-food restaurant.

"This city needs the commercial. I mean, we don't have any right now," Hooper said.

With the development boom and population increase lingering, city governments, schools and public agencies have begun planning for the growth.

In the Basehor-Linwood School District, the School Board will ask voters for $29.9 million in new school construction. City officials are busy planning a $3.5 million sewer expansion project.

Even the Basehor Community Library feels the brunt of growth: Library officials are planning to propose a multi-million dollar bond issue for a new facility.

It appears what started in 2000 will continue for Basehor and southern Leavenworth County in the near future.

What will this new development mean to the city 10 to 20 years from now?

In short, Basehor will look less and less like the city residents have grown accustomed to.

"If you want to maintain that small-town atmosphere, it's going to be hard," Hooper said.

The door has been opened and a rush of new homes and businesses are set to pour through the floodgates. Here's a look at how deep the waters go.

Basehor developments

Development: Pinehurst

Location: south of Kansas Highway 24/40, across from the Basehor shopping center

Owners: Breuer Properties L.L.C.

What it will add: 97 acres of commercial, retail and industrial businesses. Pinehurst is not in Basehor, but city officials said the development would be annexed in coming weeks.

Development: Falcon Lakes

Location: Kansas Highway 7 and Hollingsworth Road

Owner: Rustom Ferzandi

What it will add: a golf course, which opened in August, clubhouse and restaurant. The restaurant and clubhouse will open in November.

In addition: Falcon Lakes will entail 560 to 600 single- and multi-family homes on approximately 600 acres when completed.

Development: Prairie Lakes

Location: Kansas Highway 24/40 and 150th Street

Owner: Steve Cole

What it will add: 18 acres of commercial and industrial development.

In addition: 100 single-family homes

Development:Prairie Gardens

Location: Parallel and 158th Street

Owners: RJ Investments

What it will add: Commercial and retail businesses.

In addition: 600 single- and multi-family homes on approximately 380 acres of land.

Development: Iron Creek

Location: 155th Street and Poplar

Owners: Scherer construction

What it will add: 106 single-family homes on approximately 35 to 40 acres

Development: Regency Woods

Location: 158th Street

Owner: Don Wilming

What it will add: 100 single-family homes

In addition: some areas slated for commercial and retail use 84 acres

Development: Basehor shopping center

Location: 155th Street and State Avenue

Owners: Dennis and Debbie Breuer

What it will add: commercial and retail businesses

Development: senior housing

Location: 155th Street and Elm Street

Owners: Commercial Group of Topeka

What it will add: 54 units of low-income senior housing on four to six acres of land

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