New plan for Basehor Wolf Creek area calls for office buildings in place of more retail
Basehor's Wolf Creek area, once envisioned as a retail center, may have a different future, and a different name, if a development group's plans come to fruition.
The area just north of U.S. Highway 24-40 between 155th and 150th streets could be home to office buildings with room for several hundred employees, along with smaller retail businesses, according to a preliminary plan presented at the Basehor City Council's work session Monday by representatives from Zimmer Real Estate Services.
The commercial real estate firm, which has served as the developer for the Village West district in Kansas City, Kan., has been contracted by Tonganoxie-based First State Bank and Trust to help plan and attract development to the area surrounding Wolf Creek Parkway east of 155th Street.
Whereas the development group that previously owned the Wolf Creek area had proposed that it be filled with retail shops, Zimmer's plan is to line Wolf Creek Parkway with a variety of business facilities, ranging from retail stores and restaurants to medical facilities and office buildings. The company also plans to “re-brand” the development area with a new name, said Michael VanBuskirk, a senior vice president for Zimmer who spoke at the meeting.
“We want everyone to know that Wolf Creek, as originally intended, is no longer moving forward,” VanBuskirk said. “It's under new ownership, and it's a new day.”
The co-anchor of the proposed development under Zimmer's plan — along with the roughly 50,000-square-foot Orscheln Farm & Home store planned to open in the spring in the center of the area — would be a 50,000-square-foot office building near 155th Street and U.S. 24-40, with parking for about 300 employees. The plan would split the area east-west, with office buildings sitting to the east of the Orscheln store and retail shops, restaurants, medical offices and perhaps a pharmacy and an assisted-living center on the western portion of the road.
VanBuskirk said Zimmer had decided to veer from the previous Wolf Creek developers' plans for an all-retail district in an effort to speed up development in the area at a time when retail stores are hesitant to expand.
“If you look at your national retailers, almost all of them have pulled back on opening new branches,” VanBuskirk said.
By trying to draw several different types of businesses, he said, the firm could increase its chances of landing suitors faster. The plan presented Monday is only preliminary and could change based on what sorts of businesses the company is able to attract, he said.
The plan also includes a realignment of 150th Street near the highway, and First State Bank and Zimmer would also need to sort out a number of planning issues and reach an agreement on a three-acre triangle-shaped piece of property handed over to the city by the previous Wolf Creek developers. Those issues mean that any development would likely be several years away, VanBuskirk said.
First State Bank came into possession of the property in the Wolf Creek area after the previous developers defaulted. The property of the former Wolf Creek Marketplace grocery — now purchased by Orscheln — had fallen into the hands of a different bank.
City council president Dennis Mertz said the presentation was a chance for the firm to “kick off” its development plans, and the council would not be making any decisions right away.
Council member David Breuer noted the city might also be concerned that the plan to include offices in place of retail shops would result in less sales tax revenue, which through a transportation development district is planned to pay back a state loan for the construction of Wolf Creek Parkway. Breuer thanked the bank and the development firm for sharing its plans, though.
“We hope you continue forward with your suggestions,” Breuer said.
After the presentation, the council went into two 10-minute executive sessions with city attorney Shannon Marcano and interim city administrator Lloyd Martley, citing matters of land acquisition. Mertz said the discussions were related to the Wolf Creek area.
Mayor Terry Hill was absent from the meeting because of illness.
Also at Monday's council work session:
• Council members indicated they would favor continuing to offer Basehor residents a 50 percent rebate on youth sports registration fees at the city-owned Field of Dreams athletic complex in 2012.
In early 2011, the council voted to offer the discount to Basehor residents during the complex's first season under city ownership. According to a report from city clerk Corey Swisher, the city issued 132 rebates totaling $7,060 in 2011.
Swisher's report also said the city's expenses in operating the park were less than its revenues from the park in 2011, and the 2012 budget should allow for the same.
• The council held off on discussing possible city participation in the construction of a new facility for the Basehor Historical Museum near 158th Street and Parallel Road. Martley said the mayor was planning to speak on the topic, and he recommended waiting until Hill was present to discuss it.