Archive for Business

72 percent of properties see increases in valuations in Wyandotte County

Wyandotte County Appraiser Kathy Briney met with Fairfax business owners and representatives Thursday in a meeting sponsored by the Fairfax Industrial Association. (Photo from the Fairfax Industrial Association)

by Mary Rupert

About 72 percent of properties in Wyandotte County had increases in their valuations this year, leading some businesses and residents to say that they are planning to appeal.

Reports are that some individual businesses in Fairfax had an increase of 50 percent and 70 percent in their real estate valuations. Valuation notices were sent out March 5.

Wyandotte County Appraiser Kathy Briney met with Fairfax business owners and representatives Thursday, in an event sponsored by the Fairfax Industrial Association.

“We don’t create value, people in the marketplace create value,” Briney said on Friday. It is people’s transactions that create the values of property here.

“It’s our legal responsibility to analyze the transactions and apply it to properties,” she said. “That’s our job, I know it’s not a very popular one. The big message is, if they do have questions, I’m all about communication and having people come in and talk with us.”

More demand than supply now in the market

About 72 percent of properties of all types in Wyandotte County saw an increase in valuations this year, Briney said.

For residential properties, there is more demand than supply now in the market, causing prices in the market to increase. This leads to sales with higher prices, which in turn leads to higher valuations of residential properties.

Briney said the median increase for residential properties here was a little over 6 percent.

For commercial properties, countywide there was a median increase of about 8 percent, Briney said. Some areas saw larger increases depending on the market, their conditions and specific neighborhoods, she added.

Median commercial value changes by UG district (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

Prosperity leads to higher valuations

Median residential value change by UG district (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

“The market is the big indicator,” Briney said in answer to a question on why property values increased. “We’ve come out of a recession.”

For residential properties, there is currently a supply-and-demand issue, she said. It’s a seller’s market, she said. When there aren’t enough homes available to match the demand, the price of homes often goes up.

According to Briney, market reports recently showed that the supply of homes on the market in Wyandotte County is 30 percent lower than the previous year. In some areas of the county, people are buying homes for more than the asking prices because buyers are competing to get a property, she said.

Briney said her office has to follow mandates of the state law and also directives from the Kansas Department of Revenue, Division of Property Valuation. The state requires the local appraiser’s office to appraise properties within 10 percent of market value, she said.

While Wyandotte County was in compliance on the residential side, it was not in compliance of this 10 percent rule on the commercial side, she said. The oversight agency, the Kansas Department of Revenue, conducts annual audits to make sure they meet the mass appraisal and state mandates. The state also checks for uniformity.

The appraiser’s office receives all the sales reports of property in Wyandotte County, and three years are analyzed.

“Our task is to try to follow these market trends and be within 10 percent of market value,” Briney said.

Commercial property in Wyandotte County has been out of compliance of the 10 percent market value for some years, she said. What changed recently is a law that was passed in July 2016 that holds the property valuation division accountable as well as the county to get commercial properties back in compliance, she said.

“We want to get back in compliance,” she said. “What I’m tasked with is following the law.”

What effect will higher valuations have on local businesses?

Real estate appraised values in the Fairfax district (Chart from the Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

In the Fairfax industrial district, valuations went up 50 percent and more on some, but not all, properties.

John Latenser, who is with Neff Packaging, a Fairfax business, and is president of the Fairfax Industrial Association, said the association scheduled the Thursday meeting with the appraiser and business owners after they heard about substantial property valuation increases. About 31 persons attended the meeting.

Latenser said Briney and the appraiser’s office have been very open, very willing to talk to the business owners and encourage them to use the informal appeal process available to them. He said he understood that the commercial properties throughout the county were not in compliance and they had to bring the appraiser’s office up to current standards.

In answer to a question, Latenser said it would be hard to say if the Fairfax district would lose businesses as a result of the valuations. There has been an effort by the UG to work to reduce high taxes, he said. The effect of higher valuations may not be that businesses leave the city, but it might be an impediment to recruiting new businesses to locate in the Fairfax area, he said.

Latenser said it is likely that there will be more valuation appeals this year.

Why were some businesses’ valuations increased 50 and 70 percent?

Warehouse survey by the property valuation division (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

This past fall, the property valuation division hired independent limited appraisers on random samples of property types they deemed were needed, Briney said. One was warehouses and another was downtown rows, where sometimes retail multi-use properties are located next to each other.

A random sample done throughout the county compared values for warehouses, she said. When the values from the independent fee appraisals on warehouses were compared to the assigned values, it came in at about half, or 50 percent value, she said. What is happening in the marketplace currently is a bigger demand for warehouse space.

“Warehouse properties are a very hot commodity right now,” Briney said. The demand on the market has increased. The appraisers’ office is tasked with researching, conducting analysis and it has quite a few sales that are used in this process, she added.

In Fairfax alone, values were at least 40 percent low, she said. Some of these values were increased last year, “but it was like the market just swallowed it up,” as sales prices for warehouse property were rising, she said.

“What we’re trying to do is come back into compliance, and trying to make our model more reflective of the market,” she said.

Why weren’t valuations increased a little at a time instead of all at once on the 50 percent and greater increases?

Valuation increases were not phased in gradually over a number of years on the big increases of 50 percent or greater, not allowing property owners some time to adjust to them.

“I can’t do that,” Briney said. That was not allowed by the law. The property valuations are supposed to be between 90 and 100 percent of the market value, she said. If she knowingly made changes outside this range, it could be a misdemeanor.

Briney said only some properties were affected by 50 percent. She said she understands the concerns of property owners.

At her meeting with Fairfax business owners on Thursday, she said she explained appeal processes.

“We welcome people to come in and talk to us,” she said. For example, if the property owner knows the information is not correct, he or she should come into the office and let them know. There are informal appeal processes and formal appeals.

Property owners in Wyandotte County have until April 4 to file an informal appeal of their valuations, she said. There will be a meeting scheduled to go over property information, and those appealing can bring information with them that might make a difference in the valuation.

If the property owner loses an appeal at the local level, he or she can appeal; there is a process that goes to the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals.

Resident plans to appeal her home valuation increase of $10,000

2018 residential median value changes. This chart shows the Northeast area with a 7.23 percent change; the Downtown – Central area with a 10 percent change, where the Strawberry Hill area experienced residential and commercial revitalization in 2017; the Argentine – Armourdale area with a 6 percent change; KU Med area with an 8.6 percent change with commercial and residential growth; the Bethel – Welborn area with a 6 percent change; the Turner area with a 3 percent change; the Victory-Nearman area with a 4 percent change; the Stony Point area with a 6 percent change; the Piper area with a 6.9 percent change; the Edwardsville area with a 4 percent change; and the Bonner Springs area with a 3.9 percent change. (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

In the Welborn area of Kansas City, Kansas, Lou Braswell said she plans to appeal the valuation on her home.

“After the shock wore off, I tried to realize why it went up $10,000,” Braswell said about her home valuation. Her three-bedroom home was built in the 1960s. She was speaking as an individual only and not in her capacity with a community organization.

Braswell said she didn’t think houses were much in demand in her particular neighborhood, citing four houses that were up for sale for a year and a half and didn’t sell, and some didn’t even have any showings.

She said she has talked with a lot of individuals whose home valuations have gone up this year.

“I fought it last year and I did win,” Braswell said. After she appealed, her valuation went down $3,000. But now it’s back up again and she plans to appeal again.

She said she thinks it’s worth the time and trouble to appeal it. Braswell didn’t hire anyone to help her appeal it; she did some research herself.

“I went through the whole neighborhood, took a picture of every house, I evaluated what they were appraised at, and I went with a whole folder,” Braswell said.

There is a Unified Government webpage that gives information about each property, when the house was built, how many rooms it has, square footage and what the taxes have been for 10 to 15 years, she said. (It is at She used this information in a comparison when she made her presentation to the appraiser’s office on lowering the valuation.

Last year, she presented information that other properties around her were valued less than hers. This year, though, those other properties are all up in valuation, she said.

This year she said she plans to present information that other properties for sale in her area have not sold, to show there is not a big market demand in her neighborhood.

“If you’re not happy with your appraisal, appeal it, the only thing you can lose is a half-hour of your time,” Braswell said.

Information available on appeal process

Information is available on the appeal process and on other aspects of the appraisal process on the appraiser’s web page at

According to information from the UG, residents who are appealing their valuations can include another recent appraisal of the property, photos that show the condition of the property, information about other properties that are similar to the one in question, and other information the property owner feels is relevant.

Instructions for the appeal process, and a form for appealing, also are on the reverse side of the valuation notices that have been sent to residents and businesses. The appraiser’s office is located at the courthouse annex at 8200 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, and property owners may call it at 913-573-8400.

Frequently asked questions page on the appraiser’s website:


New faces at Legends Outlet area

If you haven’t been to the Legends Outlets lately, you may want to visit the shopping center at I-435 and I-70 in Kansas City, Kansas to see some new stores. A new 3,500-square-foot Kate Spade outlet opened March 9 at 1847 Village West Parkway, Suite K-127. The new apparel and accessories store offers designer merchandise. The store is located to the south of the former T-Rex restaurant.

Another new face at The Legends Outlets is Sportibles. The 2,895-square-foot store features licensed professional and college sports apparel, sports memorabilia and collectibles. It is locally owned. The store is at 1803 Village West Parkway, Suite M-137, next to Five Guys restaurant.

An H&M store opened last fall at The Legends Outlets. The 25,000-square-foot store features clothing and accessories.

A new HomeGoods store is under construction currently at The Legends Outlets at 1817 Village West Parkway, Suite 102. The new 20,097-square-foot store features home furnishings and accessories, such as furniture, bedding, bath, rugs, lighting and kitchen goods. It is expected to open in 2018.

Across Parallel Parkway, in the Plaza at the Speedway shopping center, a new St. Luke’s Community Hospital has opened a micro hospital at 10544 Parallel Parkway. The 17,000-square-foot building includes emergency room service and eight beds.


Old EPA building in downtown KCK to be new home for KU Health behavioral facility

The old EPA building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, will have a new owner, KU Health Services, and will be used for behavioral health programs, according to an announcement today. (2011 file photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

The old Environmental Protection Agency building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, will have a new owner – the University of Kansas Health System, which plans a behavioral health and mental health facility there, according to an announcement today.

Vacant for about five years, the old EPA building, with 220,000 square feet, is considered to be one of the anchor buildings for downtown Kansas City, Kansas, at 901 N. 5th St. It is at 5th Street, between Minnesota and Armstrong, right at the city’s gateway from the east.

Downtown Kansas City, Kansas, advocates view the announcement as a boost for the downtown area.

KU Health Systems did not disclose the terms of the building sale, including the purchase price, today. Unified Government property records stated that the county appraised the old EPA building for $9.85 million in 2018. The owner of the building was listed on county records as “901 North Fifth Street LLC,” with the billing name, “Urban America LP.”

Current taxes due on the EPA building for tax year 2017 were listed as $214,045.82, with no back taxes listed on the UG’s property records website page.

According to the announcement, KU Health Systems will move all adult inpatient mental and behavioral health services to the new building in about a year. There also will be administrative offices at the building. There are no immediate plans to move outpatient behavioral services at this time, according to a KU spokeswoman.

A short-term inpatient adult mental and behavioral health unit with 47 beds will be at the new facility, according to the announcement. Patients will stay at the short-term facility from four to six days. The new facility is expected to consolidate the inpatient services at 39th and Rainbow and at the Prairie Ridge facility in Kansas City, Kansas, according to the announcement.

“Kansas City, Kansas, has been our home for more than 100 years,” said Chris Ruder, vice president, patient care services and associate chief nursing officer of The University of Kansas Health System, in a news release. “We have invested more than $750 million in Wyandotte County throughout the past couple of decades, which has allowed us to expand healthcare in our community. This expansion in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, provides the space we need to increase mental and behavioral health services in a full-scale facility for people who need this care in our community, the region and the state.”

The project cost was estimated at $61 million, according to today’s announcement from the KU Health System. The EPA building, about 220,000 square feet, will have about 112,000 square feet for the health care area, according to the announcement. Other health administrative services would be in the building space that is not designated for behavioral health, a spokesman stated. The building will undergo renovation for about a year before opening.

Greg Kindle, president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, said the announcement today plays well with the general thinking about how the community continues to move forward about redeveloping downtown, bringing in new investments and bringing new employees to the area.

“Over the coming months, folks will see we are working toward a much bigger, grander plan,” he said. “It takes time.”

Kindle has been working on finding a tenant for the EPA building for about five years.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” he said. “It’s a nice size, Class A building, with built-in parking. It also had its own set of challenges.”

For some potential users, there were not enough parking spots. A large, beautiful atrium in the building with a beautiful view of the skyline and rivers was a challenge for other potential users, he added. Because of the atrium, only part of the building’s square footage is usable.

KU Health Systems and Hospital has worked on economic development projects in other capacities in the community and has been involved in nearly every other health discussion here, he said. KU Health Systems will be making a substantial investment into the old EPA building, he said.

“This continues the health care investment we are seeing in Wyandotte County,” Kindle said. “We are grateful KU Hospital has the vision and wherewithal to buy the building, and bring employees back downtown who will be more engaged and help us in the revitalization of downtown.”

With this investment, there is now a health care connection from the east side of the community to the west, Kindle said. That is in addition to the main KU Hospital campus on the south side of the community.

He said health care-related facilities now are forming a corridor from the former EPA building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, to the Children’s Mercy facility at State Avenue and I-635, the Kansas City Kansas Community College nursing programs near the Turner Diagonal and State Avenue, Cerner with a health informatics facility near State Avenue and I-435, Sporting KC and related training programs, and Providence Medical Center near 89th and Parallel Parkway.

Even the American Royal project can be looked at as part of a health corridor, with an animal health program, he added.

Health care is now the largest sector of Wyandotte County employment, with about 19,545 employees in Wyandotte County with an average salary of about $53,500, Kindle said.

The next biggest is manufacturing with 11,092 jobs and an average wage of $64,460, he said.

Jason Norbury, executive director of the Downtown Shareholders, views the announcement as a positive sign for downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

“The KU Health System promises to bring a significant number of quality jobs, which will help increase the activity and interest in downtown Kansas City, Kansas,” Norbury said.

Kindle said the number of jobs at the former EPA building would be estimated at about 100 initially, with several more when the administration portion of the jobs are added.

The EPA moved to its new building in Lenexa, Kansas, in 2012, saying it would save 32 percent of the energy costs of the old building, estimated at millions of dollars in savings over 25 years. The new building in Lenexa was a “green building” designed to save energy costs.

A KU Health Systems spokeswoman stated that they are aware the old EPA building is all-electric and are taking that into account in their planning for renovation and operation of the facility.

The Downtown Shareholders are hoping the announcement today may help spur development.

There is other economic activity currently in the downtown area, Norbury said. During the past year, there has been significant growth in retail sales in the downtown area, he said.

“There is development ongoing on a number of different fronts,” he said. Some projects are still in the planning stages.

One project currently in the planning stages downtown is a modular business incubator, planned to be a structure at 6th and Tauromee that will help new businesses get a start, Norbury said.

The project announcement today is good news for the downtown area, following an action recently at the Unified Government Commission level to put a downtown grocery and YMCA campus project on hold while they work on finding a manager for the grocery. That project was planned for the 11th and State Avenue area.

While Kindle did not have any news he could share with the public about the Healthy Campus project today, he said, “Everybody’s thinking about retail and grocery and how it all fits together. It will – it will all fit together. We hope this is the first of a number of new announcements and a whole new look on downtown Kansas City, Kansas.”