by Mary Rupert
Community residents on Wednesday night heard a presentation on a proposal for a new “KC Foodie Park” at the former Indian Springs shopping mall site at 47th and State Avenue.
Richard Scavuzzo, chief executive officer of Scavuzzo’s, a food service business, described a proposal for the mall site of almost 50 acres. Buildings in the development would be almost entirely concerned with the food business, although there might be one or two not in the food industry, he said.
Residents attending the meeting asked him to include local residents and local businesses among the suppliers, businesses and employees of the development. About 75 persons attended the meeting at Painted Hills Country Club, 71st and Parallel Parkway. Some residents said they did not want a convenience store as one of the businesses visible from the road.
Scavuzzo and Curtis Peterson, a lawyer for the development, showed a proposed map of the development; however, it is not the final proposal and could be changed, officials said. Peterson said they don’t yet know exactly where the buildings will be.
The proposed development is located near the intersection of I-635 and I-70 in Kansas City, Kansas, and there are about 90,000 vehicles traveling nearby each day, according to officials.
Three proposed pad sites along the north edge of the development would be restaurants, Scavuzzo said. A little south of that would be more restaurants, some retail, and food service-based home delivery customers, he said. The order and delivery concept is popular with retail and would be brought to food service. He also mentioned a convenience store as a possibility.
A four-story office building would be the headquarters office for Scavuzzo’s, he said. It would include a test kitchen and offices, with space for culinary training for students. Other tenants also would be located in the office building.
A food service center building on the south side of the property would replace Scavuzzo’s current operations, he said. The facility would produce more energy than it would consume, he said. There would be a solar farm on the property, he added. The goal will be a gold-level LEED certification for the facility, he said. Trucks will be limited to the southeast side of the property, he said.
If approved, a small family-owned food service company could set the pace in its industry through innovation, he added.
He said there would be walking trails planned around the development, especially around the restaurant and retail areas.
In answer to a resident’s question, Scavuzzo said that his company currently has a little more than 100 employees and he would expect that number to increase to around 200 with the new development. The jobs would pay around $20 per hour, he said. Currently, there are five Wyandotte High School students working with his company in an after-school program, he said.
Construction would take place in phases, starting with the north and then the south. The center of the site would be developed later.
Some of the details of the plan had not yet been worked out, and more details are expected to be completed when the idea goes to the Kansas City, Kansas, Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 10, according to Scavuzzo. The Unified Government’s economic development department currently is working with them on the project, said Doug Bach, UG administrator.
There was no figure yet on the proposed cost of the development, or the square footage of the entire project, Scavuzzo said. The food service center would be approximately 130,000 square feet, and the office building would be about 15,000 square feet, in general, he said. Each retail pad would be about 15,000 square feet and the size of the restaurants would be up to the restaurants that would locate there, he said.
Peterson, a Polsinelli attorney for Scavuzzo’s, said it was a family-owned business for more than 100 years. Richard Scavuzzo is the fifth generation in the business.
Scavuzzo’s serves many restaurants in the area, especially family-owned individual restaurants, he said. It also serves a lot of casinos and does business in a 19-state area currently.
The “elephant in the room,” Peterson said, was that people have different opinions about the Indian Springs site, and there have been prior proposals on what to do with the site.
They believe strongly that a food-based park would succeed, according to Scavuzzo.
Peterson said Area Real Estate Advisers, a brokerage firm, would handle finding tenants for the development.
There are about 500 clients of Scavuzzo’s who may be asked if they are interested in locating at the KC Foodie Park, according to Scavuzzo. A resident asked Scavuzzo to include minorities, and a Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce representative asked him to include chamber members.
The “KC Foodie Park” proposal was the unnamed unsolicited proposal that came in to the UG for the Indian Springs site, according to Peterson. A flex-tech proposal for the former mall site did not advance after community members questioned it in September 2017.
The Indian Springs mall was torn down about three years ago, and the property is currently owned by the Unified Government. Whether the site will be leased or purchased by Scavuzzo’s, or by third parties who locate there, is one of the details that is not yet worked out, according to Scavuzzo.
Also not worked out yet are the details of financing. Peterson said some type of incentive would be expected to be offered, one that would use revenues from the development.
Some residents asked if there would be a grocery store at the new development, and Scavuzzo said he was there to find out what residents wanted in the development. There is currently a proposal for an expansion to the existing nearby Aldi’s grocery store at 48th and State Avenue that also is expected to come before the planning commission in December.
Some residents asked about inclusion of minorities in all the plans, and Peterson said the development would be race-neutral. Scavuzzo encouraged people to apply for jobs with the company now and said the company wants to include minority business firms in this development, also.
Another resident asked for an entertainment business to be at the site, such as a movie theater or bowling center.
Stephanie Kimbrough, who asked some questions at the meeting, said although you can’t encompass everyone, this was a very gallant effort to be economically sound and service the people of Wyandotte County.
Norm Scott, a Board of Public Utilities member who attended the community meeting, said he liked the idea of solar energy being produced at the proposed KC Foodie Park development.
The development is expected to come before the City Planning Commission at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in the Commission Chambers, City Hall, 701 N. 7th St., Kansas City, Kansas.