Development depends on reopening closed road
It all depends on the Kansas Department of Transportation and its willingness to reopen an access road closed two years ago.
That's how thin a line Shawnee developer Tom Zarda is talking when discussing the development of his 80 acres of land on Kansas Highway 7, north of Leavenworth Road. His development is called the Zarda Center.
During the Basehor Planning Commission meeting Tuesday, Nov. 4, Zarda reiterated what's common knowledge in city circles already -- that he will not proceed with his development without access to Falcon Lakes Parkway.
"Would not do it, would not do it," Zarda said. "It's developable property now if we get access."
The Planning Commission voted, 6-0, to approve the preliminary plat for the development Tuesday night. Member Jason Logsdon abstained from the vote because he is employed by the engineering firm that designed the preliminary plat.
After granting approval for the road, the department of transportation ordered Falcon Lakes Parkway barricaded two years ago for safety reasons. The $1.4 million access road leads to the Falcon Lakes residential area and golf course and also through Zarda's 80-acre property.
Without the highway exposure K-7 and Falcon Lakes Parkway offer, the development could not succeed, Zarda said.
Zarda, who's also the developer of Shawnee Crossings at the southeast corner of K-7 and Shawnee Mission Parkway, proposes to build a commercial and retail development with office space, restaurants, a convenience store, hotel and bank.
The preliminary plat shows 2,500 parking spaces within the development. Traffic would use Falcon Lakes Parkway for entrance and exits.
Reopening of Falcon Lakes Parkway has been a rallying cry for Basehor city officials in recent weeks. A decision on the road's future is expected within the next several weeks.
"Maybe (reopening the road) isn't just wishful thinking," Zarda said.
One of the options considered for Falcon Lakes Parkway is making the road a right turn in, right turn out only road. This would not work, Zarda said.
"For us to develop that property to its fullest extent, we can't do a right turn in, right turn out," the developer said.
"I think we have to resolve issues with KDOT."
Zarda also told Planning Commission members that he will propose to the Basehor City Council an alternative to paying a 9-cents-per-square-foot excise tax for his property.
Instead of funds garnered from the excise tax, in this case approximately $313,000, Zarda will propose he pay for the renovation of Hollingsworth and Donohoo roads, dilapidated nearby roads to the Zarda Center.
The developer would improve both roads to city standards from K-7 west to his property line. A quick estimate of construction costs Tuesday night indicated the renovations would cost approximately $250,000, Basehor city codes administrator Mike Hooper said.
"We're willing to do it if we can get credit against our excise tax," Zarda said.