Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Developers down to 1 property for center

April 12, 2007

Developers and the Lansing City Council continue moving forward with plans to develop Towne Center, but a single property owner may cause the deal to fall apart.

The council on Thursday approved an ordinance to create the Towne Center redevelopment district. It was the latest in a series of steps pointing toward approval of tax increment financing, which would allow developers to build the center.

Anchored by a Lowe's home improvement store and, possibly, a Hy-Vee grocery store, the Towne Center development would stretch from 4-H Road to West Kay Street along Main Street.

But one property owner is causing some anxiety by refusing to accept developers' offers for the property.

The Lois Street home in question belonged to Bill and Rosy Bailiff, both of whom died within the past two years. Their son, Aaron, of Overland Park, has not come to an agreement with developers.

The Bailiff's granddaughter, Kim Motley, who lives next door, said her father may be holding onto the home for sentimental reasons.

"It's a lot to deal with right now," she said.

Motley and her husband Tim, who have lived in their home with their 12-year old son for 12 years, said they were pleased and excited with their offer and interaction with the developers.

"They got us way over appraised," Tim Motley said. "We're going from a blighted area to a newer home."

In all, 23 property owners have reached agreement to sell to make way for the development, in what Jess Davis, Lansing Towne Center developer, described as one of the quickest purchase periods he's seen in 25 years in the business.

Developers say if they can't acquire the Bailiff property, though, the deal could be off for the other 23 property owners and the city.

The city could step in and conduct condemnation proceedings, but it's not known whether developers favor the idea or whether it would gain the council's backing.

City Administrator Mike Smith said if the condemnation route is taken, the city must act before a new state law takes effect on July 1 that would require the Kansas Legislature to give its approval of any condemnation.

If the city doesn't act before July 1, "It would take forever and we're on a timeline," Smith said.

Smith said he spoke to Aaron Bailiff as recently as Monday and still couldn't persuade him to sell.

At Thursday's meeting, Chase Simmons, attorney for the Lansing Towne Center developers, presented evidence that the area set to become a retail space is a "Blighted Area."

He showed pictures of homes and streets as evidence of the deferred maintenance in the area. Simmons said the area has not created a tax base for the city because of the blighted factors.

Configuring the tax increment financing will be the next step for the project development group to bring to the council.

Also at Thursday's council meeting:

¢ Chris, Becicka of Overland Park-based Project Explore presented results from a Kansas Regional Prisons Museum Education Feasibility Study. She said 513 surveys were sent to area teachers and 99 were returned. Seventh grade teachers were the most responsive. Nearly half of the respondents said they were "at least quite interested," Becicka said. The study concluded that field trips are scarce due to a lack of funding, transportation and because state assessments are a priority. The study projected that 20,000 visitors and gift shop profits could generate a total revenue of $116,320. Becicka said they also estimated an additional $10,000 could be generated by 2,000 students on school tour groups.

¢ Ken Miller, the city's Main Street project liaison, said project is on schedule but warned of bumper-to-bumper traffic being created by the project through the spring.

¢Mayor Kenneth Bernard made a proclamation declaring April 27 as Arbor Day in Lansing. A ceremonial Black Hills Spruce will be planted at 10 a.m. that day at Lansing City Hall.

¢ The mayor also proclaimed April 15 to April 21 as "National Library Week."

¢ The council approved a cereal malt beverage license for the upcoming Brew, Blues and Bar-B-Q Cook-off. The city event is scheduled for May 4-5.

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