JONNA LORENZ | Contributing Writer
Downtown Overland Park redevelopment got a shot of adrenaline this week with news that Freightquote.com founder Tim Barton plans to develop a 130,000-square foot office tower on a site that includes the Overland Park Presbyterian Church near 81st and Marty streets.
Longtime Kansas City broker and developer Jim Harpool of Evergreen Real Estate Services helped Barton assemble the land, which amounts to almost a full city block. Harpool said the office project arose in response to an uptick in luxury multifamily and mixed-use projects under construction downtown Overland Park.
“Millennials look for a place to live first, and then they go look for a job. They want to work wherever it is cool and where it’s happening,” Harpool said. “We’ve had some office users who have called us and said, ‘Hey, I’m located in an office park, and there’s nothing to walk to, and we can’t get Millennials to come and work for us.' "
"Everything is really going fantastically," Mayor Carl Gerlach said of several mixed-use projects that are "building the density downtown which we were looking for in the Vision Metcalf plan" adopted in 2007.
Over the next two years, a total of four new developments are set to bring more than 500 new apartment units, an estimated 22,000 square feet of retail space and over 17,000 square feet of office space in Downtown Overland Park.
On April 4, Hunt Midwest Residential Development officially broke ground on The Vue high-end mixed-use project just steps away from Barton’s planned office tower. Located at the southeast corner of 80th and Marty streets, The Vue will include 219 luxury apartments, 10,000 square feet of retail space, and a structured parking garage.
Leasing for The Vue won’t begin for at least another year, but three other multifamily projects are set to begin welcoming residents throughout 2017:
•Residents will begin moving into InterUrban Lofts at the southwest corner of 79th and Conser streets beginning April 29. Developed by Real Property Group LLC, InterUrban Lofts includes 41 residential units, 7,500-square feet of office space, and a 54-space parking garage.
•Completion is expected in August for Avenue 80, a five-story project being developed by EPC Real Estate Group LLC. Located at the southwest corner of 80th Street and Metcalf Avenue, Avenue 80 will offer 220 residential units, 10,000 square feet of office space, 7,000 square feet of retail, a courtyard and parking garage.
•Market Lofts, developed by Goehausen & Co. at northwest corner of 80th and Marty streets, is scheduled for completion in the late fall. It will offer 36 residential units, 5,700 square feet of retail space and two levels of parking.
In February, representatives from those projects participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Downtown Overland Park Partnership, discussing everything from the status of their projects to amenities and public parking in the area. The area's charm and character, unique shops and urban environment were among the draws.
"We're excited for the new foot traffic and to introduce this really one-of-a-kind area to so many new faces," said Kate Sweeten, executive director of the Downtown Overland Park Partnership.
Public art including and other aesthetic improvements will encourage people to get out and explore what the downtown area has to offer. Such perks will complement the area's unique businesses that appeal to people with interests ranging from quilting and beading to culinary skills and home brewing, Sweeten said.
The development will benefit the city's farmer's market and the annual fall festival, Mayor Gerlach said. Time will tell whether future development will include bringing a grocery store back to the area, but with Barton's acquisition of a full square block downtown, there is renewed optimism
"It would be great if there could be a small neighborhood specialty market in the area," Gerlach said.