Expectations are high for Indian Springs redevelopment

A sketch from Lane4 presented one option for Indian Springs redevelopment.

Window on the West

Opinion column
by Mary Rupert

The Unified Government Commission has re-started the search to redevelop one of the biggest empty places in Kansas City, Kan. – Indian Springs.

A preliminary redevelopment agreement with Lane4 was approved 5-0 at the April 28 UG economic development committee meeting, and is expected to advance May 15 to the UG Commission for further discussion.

But a first UG economic development committee meeting April 7 ended without an endorsement of the effort when Commissioner Jim Walters, whose background includes the Sporting KC stadium project, asked the developer for more specifics when looking at some sketches of options for the former shopping mall property.

“I haven’t given up on a landmark development,” Walters said April 7. “I just don’t see anything here that leads me to believe we’re aiming high enough.”

One of his points was that the property at I-70 and I-635 was a large contiguous urban site that just isn’t found anywhere. He said then he wanted to make sure that they weren’t locked into a lot of small developments that could be placed anywhere.

Walters has since met with Lane4, discussed concepts, and now has voted to approve the project moving forward. At the April 28 committee meeting, he said that after meeting with Lane4, he was on the same wave length, and he looked forward for the property to be a transformational development in the midtown area.

Officials said the options they presented earlier were not intended to be well-developed plans, but were just ideas for going forward with the project. George Brajkovic, UG director of economic development, said at the April 28 meeting that the earlier drawings were intended only to depict mass and scale for potential redevelopment.

At the April 28 meeting, Lane4 officials said they agreed with commissioners that their goal is not to short-sell the property, but to see what its potential is in the market. Lane4 officials said they would like to bring back a project the commission can consider after working on it for a year or so.

Commissioner Walters’ first reaction probably is the same of people all around the community. The community expects a lot from that redevelopment, maybe even a Village East or a Village Midtown. But the project will be different from the old Indian Springs mall, and residents need to expect that, too.

Currently, plans are not set in stone, according to officials, but some mixed use development including retail and residential is expected by the commission.

The UG has owned the 40-year-old Indian Springs mall and property since 2007, and it has been virtually vacant for decades, with some government offices located there. An earlier attempt to redevelop it in early 2009 as a retail area with a look that reminded one of Prescott Plaza did not go anywhere. The economy at that time was still somewhat weak. Another idea that had been suggested earlier for Indian Springs was a big community aquatic and fitness center; however, with its location at the intersection of I-70 and I-635, Indian Springs still remains an ideal retail location, and the commission opted for the retail-mixed use development.

Under the two-year agreement, Lane4 will serve as a exclusive broker and market the property to potential retailers, and it also can seek out developers for other parts of the Indian Springs property.  As the owner, the UG still would have control over what is approved for the property.  The types of tenants, according to the agreement, include categories such as grocery stores, department  stores, junior box stores, small shops, restaurants, banks and other businesses, and possibly senior living, apartments, flex space, governmental facilities, industrial, office or other uses.

“After talking with representatives of Lane4, I have gained lot of confidence in their vision and we can work together very well on the overall development of this property,” Walters said on April 28.

It is a good thing for expectations to be high for the Indian Springs redevelopment project, and the local government is to be commended for not giving up on redeveloping it. Lane4 is in a good position, constantly working with retailers around the metro area, to find good tenants for the property.   It will be a great adventure and a great task to do another excellent development at Indian Springs, and we wish them success.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@wyandottepublishing.com.

A sketch from Lane4 presented an option for Indian Springs redevelopment.
A sketch from Lane4 presented an option for Indian Springs redevelopment.

Recent tragedy points to need for more gun control

Opinion column

Window on the West
by Mary Rupert
Like almost everyone in the Kansas City area, I was shocked by the events of Sunday, April 13, when three persons were killed in a shooting near the Jewish Community Center parking lot in Overland Park, Kan.

It’s important for community members to continue their efforts for the good of others, without fear.

The tragic events point not only to a need for more education of children on accepting others who may be different from them (especially education from parents on accepting others), it also points to a need for more limitations on guns that seem to be growing in numbers and are everywhere in today’s world.

Unfortunately, Kansas seems to be moving in the opposite direction, toward allowing people to carry guns everywhere.

You’ll never convince me that this is the civilized thing to do. Civilized people settle their differences in a calmer manner, without weapons. They sit down and negotiate their differences. They may go to court if necessary. They get a law passed. They write letters to the editor. They don’t need to take the law into their own hands. They don’t need guns.

To carry a gun around (if you are not a law enforcement officer) is to take a step backwards toward a more uncivilized life.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@wyandottepublishing.com. If you have an opinion on current events in the Kansas City area and you want to share it with other readers, send it to news@wyandottepublishing.com.

Legislative update from Sen. Pat Pettey

Legislative update from Sen. Pat Pettey, D-6th Dist.

April 4, 2014

In this issue:

• Senate adjourns this week

• School finance

• Community forum

• Kansas Health Institute

• Health information

Senate adjourns this week  

Legislators worked long days this week finishing legislative business before the session break.

The session is scheduled to end April 4.

After this date, bills that haven’t passed both chambers can no longer be debated although certain bills are exempt from this deadline.

Following a short break, legislators will return for the veto session in late April. At that time, exempt bills, conference reports, and any vetoes by the governor will be considered.

If you have any questions about any of the legislation being considered, feel free to contact my office at 785-296-7375 or stop by my legislative office, located in 125-E of the Topeka Statehouse. My assistant’s name is Jennifer Parson.

School finance  

The Senate will likely not finish today, but will convene again on Saturday, April 5, to work school funding legislation in response to the Gannon decision handed down by the Supreme Court.

I have voted “no” on this legislation, and join with Sen. Anthony Hensley in his explanation of that “no” vote, offered on the Senate floor:

“Madam President:

“I vote no on HB 2506.

“Less than one month ago the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed that the legislature has created an unconstitutional school finance system and then was the time to fix it. They told us to resolve inequities by fully funding capital outlay and local option budget equalization.

“Unfortunately, we have waited until the final two days of the legislative session to address this issue. When the equity issue should have been this legislature’s first and foremost priority.

“It is absurd that we are discussing more cuts to important areas of education – at-risk, virtual schools, transportation – to fix this. More cuts are not the solution.

“This bill makes unnecessary and unvetted new education policy such as blocking the implementation of the Common Core standards, creating a corporate tax scholarship credit, eliminating due process for teachers, and establishing a property tax credit without a fiscal note for families using private schools.

“The school finance formula is not broken and should not be changed. The formula is underfunded. And, if we really want to put money into the classroom, we should be restoring the cuts and raising the base state aid per pupil.”

– Anthony Hensley

This session on the Senate floor continued until 1:45 a.m. Friday morning. We debated the education funding bill for 6 hours.

Update from the House (from the Topeka Capital-Journal):

Both Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, urged the House to pass a compromise school finance bill Friday, in a bipartisan effort.

“While I was hoping to vote for a little bit better product, this does address the most important issue court set before us, which is that we need to fund the equalization pats of the (K-12 funding) formula,” Davis said about Senate Bill 218. To read this story, visit http://m.cjonline.com/news/2014-04-04/house-oks-bipartisan-school-finance-bill.

Community forum  

Members of the Wyandotte County legislative delegation will participate in a Town Hall Forum sponsored by the Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce. The forum will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. April 12, at the West Wyandotte Public Library, 1737 N 82nd St., Kansas City, Kan. All are welcome to attend, and I hope to see you there. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you and answer any questions you may have about this legislative session.

Kansas Health Institute  

According to the 2014 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Kansas, starting with the most healthy, are Johnson, followed by Riley, Pottawatomie, Waubaunsee and Stevens. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with the least healthy, are Woodson, Elk, Wyandotte, Chautaqua, and Decatur.

The Rankings provide county-to-county comparisons within a state. In Kansas, this year’s Rankings show that within communities that rank lowest, babies are 50 percent more likely to have low birth weight and children are more than four times more likely to live in poverty than in communities that rank at the top.

Health information

From the American Heart Association:

“Children consume 45 percent more snack food when exposed to food advertising. 34 percent of food products in ads targeting children and teens are candy and snacks.”