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Residents express opinions at town hall meeting on Indian Springs

Jon Stephens, right, the UG’s acting economic development director, talked with a resident during Tuesday night’s Indian Springs town hall meeting, held at the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools’ Central Office near 59th and Parallel Parkway. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

About 200 residents participated in a town hall meeting on Indian Springs tonight, sharing their vision for the future of the former mall. They also heard a new unsolicited proposal for Indian Springs from a developer.

During the first part of the town hall meeting, residents met in small groups to talk about their vision for Indian Springs, ranking their priorities for its use.

Among the priorities mentioned by residents: a full-service grocery store, retail stores, cultural center, destination site, mixed-use entertainment, something that would create more jobs, sustainable development, affordable senior housing, multi-use facility, something that addresses food needs and everyday needs, a facility for youth and teens, something that would generate revenue and bring jobs, a health and wellness center, general housing, a unique high-quality development, green space, something with less than 40 percent public money in it, a development attractive to millennials, and a Village East development.

During the second half of the meeting, the residents shared their reactions to a new proposal that would place a grocery store, convenience store, office building, four to six restaurants, a national headquarters, and a solar field-nature trail at the Indian Springs site. There was mixed reaction to it.

The town hall meeting was held at the Central Office of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools, 2010 N. 59th St.

Mayor Mark Holland told the gathering that he wanted to hear their dreams of what should be at Indian Springs, and what they think about a new proposal.

A flex-tech proposal, with a light industrial building, on the site was rejected this spring after public opposition.

Jon Stephens, the UG’s acting economic development director, told the audience that retail stores in America are currently in the midst of great changes, with thousands closing and others changing. The changes are largely due to the rise of online shopping. Last year, $400 billion was spent nationally on online retail, Stephens said. He said while retail stores are in general declining, new entertainment and restaurant areas are growing, particularly local restaurants.

A developer earlier told the UG that it was difficult to get any retail stores to locate at Indian Springs.

Stephens did not reveal the name of the developer who submitted a preliminary development idea to the UG, nor the total amount that the development would cost. He said it was a Kansas City developer in the food distribution and manufacturing industry.

“They’re interested in working to build the community,” Stephens said.

Stephens said although there is still an active tax-increment financing district at Indian Springs, with several years left, that it wasn’t a factor in moving these projects along. He said each project will be evaluated individually and financing would most likely be redone on a new project.

According to Stephens, the retail square footage in the new proposal ranges from 75,000 to 85,000 square feet. It would be about a third of the size of the former retail shops at Indian Springs. The proposal does not have any big retail stores similar to department stores. Instead, it has food stores.

Officials explained that the solar field and green space was planned on the west side of the 110-acre Indian Springs property. That area is undermined and a former medical building on that site had to be closed after the ground shifted, according to officials.

The audience reaction to the new proposal tonight included comments that they liked green space and job creation, and they wanted more information on the financial aspect of the project; the proposal needs fine tuning to capture their vision; more information was needed, more retail is needed; they are concerned about pollution; one group was split with six for, six against, and four indifferent; another group wanted to know the history of the developer; another group wanted housing and more community inclusion; another group was for it 10 to 4; another group liked the overall concept, was disappointed there was not a tourism aspect, and wanted to know more of the financial plans and if bonds would be used.

Lou Braswell of the Leavenworth Road Association, who was attending the meeting, offered her personal opinion that she disagreed with some residents who thought a grocery store should be at Indian Springs. She said the grocery store should be at 10th and Quindaro, as there is a greater need in that area for one. She thought residents who lived near 47th and State Avenue were probably closer to other grocery stores than residents who lived at 10th and Quindaro.

Joe Vaught, a former city councilmember who had worked on behalf of the former owners of Indian Springs before it was declared blighted and condemned, attended the meeting and participated. He said it was necessary to know how much the new proposal would cost.

“I would support that concept, but what is it going to cost?” Vaught asked.

Indian Springs could be financially successful if it was developed into what he wanted to do with it in the first place – make it into a hub for trucking, he said.

Vaught said although it was said by officials that there was $18 million spent by the UG already on Indian Springs, he believes the figure is probably closer to $25 million when lost sales tax, lost property tax, attorney fees and other expenses are figured in. The project that is selected should generate enough money to cover the costs.

Stephens said the community comments tonight would be valuable input to him, as well as the UG staff and the developer.

Mayor Holland asked the crowd if they were willing to wait five or 10 years for a development at Indian Springs, and most were not – instead, they preferred something in two to three years. He said it would have to be a balance of getting as much as they can of what the community wants in this limited time. He also complimented people for giving an evening of their time to this effort.

The UG staff plans to tabulate tonight’s comments and present the totals at a future date.

Those who did not attend tonight’s meeting may fill out an online survey on Indian Springs at http://www.wycokck.org/Home/News-Slider-Data/Large-Set-One/Indian-Springs-Vision-Survey.aspx. Already, 200 persons have filled out the survey, according to officials.

For an earlier story, see http://wyandottedaily.com/ug-schedules-community-meeting-on-indian-springs/.

Residents expressed their opinions on Indian Springs during a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Kansas City, Kansas. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


A new proposal for Indian Springs was shown in this drawing during the town hall meeting Tuesday night. On the left is a solar field, the green rectangle is a national warehouse distribution headquarters, the blue rectangle is an office headquarters, the red area is retail and restaurant, and the beige area is a convenience store. The main retail area is a grocery store, according to officials. (Staff photo)


Mayor Mark Holland gave an introduction at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs on Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Jon Stephens, UG acting economic development director, made a presentation about development and Indian Springs at the town hall meeting Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Jon Stephens, acting director of economic development for the UG, presented this slide on trends that affect development. (Staff photo)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Joe Vaught, right, a former city councilmember, said he thinks more information is needed about the proposed project’s cost. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small groups met to discuss their priorities at the town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Eric Morgenstern of Morning Star Communications was the facilitator of the town hall meeting. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


A resident asked a question about Indian Springs at the town hall meeting Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Small group discussions were part of a town hall meeting on Indian Springs Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)


Residents discussed future uses for the Indian Springs site during a town hall meeting Tuesday night. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

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Indian Springs meeting to be Tuesday evening

Community residents again will discuss what to do with Indian Springs at a meeting scheduled Sept. 19, according to Unified Government officials.

The public meeting will be 5:30 p.m. at the Kansas City, Kansas, school district Central Office building, 2010 N. 59th St., near Parallel Parkway. Residents may share their opinions about the future of the former Indian Springs mall at 47th and State Avenue at the meeting.

After registration at 5:30 p.m., the Sept. 19 meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and it will last until 8 p.m.

See earlier story at http://wyandottedaily.com/ug-schedules-community-meeting-on-indian-springs/.

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UG schedules community meeting on Indian Springs

The old Indian Springs mall at 47th and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kan., was demolished in 2016. (File photo)

Community residents again will discuss what to do with Indian Springs at a meeting scheduled Sept. 19, according to Unified Government Administrator Doug Bach.

The meeting will be 5:30 p.m. at the Kansas City, Kansas, school district Central Office building, 2010 N. 59th St., near Parallel Parkway.

Bach made the announcement on Thursday, Aug. 31, at the UG meeting. After registration at 5:30 p.m., the Sept. 19 meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

“We’re inviting members of the public to come in, offer input, as we look at different development opportunities we’ll have for that site,” Bach said.

The Indian Springs shopping mall site at 47th and State was razed in 2016; the UG has owned it since 2007.

Community involvement

The meeting will be an attempt to get an idea of the community’s vision for the Indian Springs site, said 1st District at Large Commissioner Melissa Bynum. While she is not on the planning committee for it, Bynum said the meeting is most likely to be a facilitated one, presenting information and offering an opportunity for community members’ views.

She said she believes there has always been some interest from developers in Indian Springs, but it is just a matter of whether it is appropriate interest and if it is what the community wants.

In July, the commission decided on a timeline for a 60-day plan to engage the community in the process, she said. Information will be presented on what the public and community have expressed as priorities, according to the process that was presented in July by Jon Stephens, acting economic development director.

The UG staff has planned working sessions with the public and with community stakeholders, she said. The first is the public town hall-style meeting on Sept. 19. Then there will be three small meetings with three groups, neighborhood leaders, business leaders and civic leaders.

Other considerations, according to the plan presented in July, are to look at appropriate land use, development processes to be used, if it should be a master plan, should another developer be solicited, what is the timing for the process, and if public amenities are the top-tiered desired item, what sources of funding should be used to pay for them.

After the community process is complete, a new report will be presented to the UG commissioners for consideration. The process is expected to take until the end of October at a minimum, she said.

Bach said at last week’s meeting that the UG plans to send out postcards to residents about the upcoming meeting. Also, he said there will be an opportunity in the future for residents to go online at the UG’s website at www.wycokck.org and fill out a survey giving their opinions on the issue.

Earlier plan from April

There was a high level of community interest in proposals for Indian Springs at meetings last April.

A plan to put an industrial site at part of Indian Springs, called “flex-tech development,” with plans for other development including some retail and housing at the site at 47th and State, was opposed by several residents, including two who were running for mayor at the time. The developer withdrew the plan, and there has been an effort to start the process again, seeking community comments. The firm the UG had hired to seek development stated in April that it could not find big-box retail developers interested in the site during the years it was searching for them.

UG officials went back to the drawing board after the meeting and came up with a process that will attempt to put an emphasis on more community comments and participation.

Indian Springs is located near the intersection of I-70 and I-635 in Kansas City, Kansas. The UG has owned the mall and property since 2007, and the majority of the original retail stores have been gone for decades.

TIFs and Indian Springs

Indian Springs is one of the TIFs (tax-increment financing projects) in Wyandotte County that are currently nonperforming, the UG Commission learned at the 5 p.m. Aug. 31 meeting.

Called the Midtown TIF district, the Indian Springs redevelopment district was approved in 2004, and the plan was approved in 2007, but it didn’t move forward, according to officials. That was a year the national economy took a downturn, plus the developer of this project died.

Now the UG is about $20 million or so upside down on the Indian Springs project, Mayor Mark Holland said at the meeting. He said the UG is working hard on that Indian Springs redevelopment project to get it paid back.

During a discussion about TIFs on Aug. 31, Kathleen VonAchen, UG chief financial officer, showed an illustrative chart that said 19 UG TIFs were mostly doing well, having increased the assessed valuation in the county by about $26 million.

Bach said the $26 million or so that is generated goes back into the local economy that wouldn’t have been generated otherwise.

Most of the underperforming TIFs here were in housing developments, not commercial, VonAchen pointed out. Housing TIFs listed as underperforming were the Peregrine Falcon TIF, at a minus $788,000; Mission Cliffs 2, minus $2.3 million; and St. Peter’s Waterway, minus $3.5 million, she said.

The UG has found that TIF is typically not the best tool for residential development because the assessed value doesn’t grow quickly enough in order to offset the principal and interest on the debt, and public financial assistance needs to be greater to facilitate residential developments, VonAchen said. Other economic development tools may be better incentives for residential, she believes.

Bach said while a big retail store can be built at one time, subdivisions are typically built maybe three to five homes at a time out of a 50-house project. Some of the projections of these projects were not practical, some expecting 120 homes to be built in two years, he said. A pay-as-you-go TIF, not issuing bonds, might be more practical for these homes projects, he added.

At the meeting, Commissioner Hal Walker questioned that as time went by, the commercial properties would hold their value as they were placed on the tax rolls after 20 years, and might diminish in value. Bach agreed that may be true for some retail properties, but industrial and residential properties generally held their value well. Walker said he didn’t think the UG always negotiated as hard as it could. Walker requested an analysis on the issues for a future planning meeting.

Bynum requested more information about the actual financial status of the individual TIFs projects, and their totals.

Mayor Holland said there are really two eras for TIFs here, pre-recession and post-recession. Fifteen TIF projects were approved from 1997 to 2007, including all six residential TIF projects. Since 2007, the mayor said, there were only four TIF projects, which included 39th and Rainbow, Metropolitan Avenue, 57th and State, and Rainbow Village.

He said in the past 10 years, there has been a lot more caution, with more attention to not giving up everything but just giving what was needed to make the project go.

While TIF is a good tool to have available, the commission has inherited 10 years of a different TIF policy, Mayor Holland said, and he thinks currently it is on the right track.

The discussion on Aug. 31 didn’t cover STAR bond properties, but Mayor Holland said anytime the local community can use STAR bonds, they should, because the state spends 60 percent of the government costs while the local government pays the rest. That is compared to the local government spending 100 percent for TIFs.

To see more of the 7 p.m. Aug. 31 UG meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y3YI6og5C8.

To see more of the discussion in the 5 p.m. Aug. 31 UG meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D08Gpuo0thU.

To see earlier stories on Indian Springs, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/hearing-on-indian-springs-project-canceled-as-developer-withdraws-proposal/

http://wyandottedaily.com/two-mayoral-candidates-question-indian-springs-project/

http://wyandottedaily.com/indian-springs-proposal-draws-mixed-reaction/

http://wyandottedaily.com/ug-changes-direction-on-indian-springs-development/

http://wyandottedaily.com/expectations-are-high-for-indian-springs-redevelopment/

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