by Mary Rupert
A celebration of the renaissance of Wyandotte Plaza and the State Avenue Corridor was capped off today with the announcement of a new credit union building planned at the shopping center at 78th and State.
The new CommunityAmerica Credit Union building will be constructed on the site of the former Payless ShoeSource building at the center, according to company officials.
The event at Wyandotte Plaza on Tuesday, which was also the annual meeting for Business West, drew a number of Unified Government officials and business leaders. The event was coordinated by Business West and the UG.
The shopping center includes a new state-of-the-art 60,000-square-foot Price Chopper building that opened last July on the east end, and under construction currently are Marshalls and PetSmart on the west end. Dave Claflin, of RED Legacy, the developer, said that he hopes the new PetSmart and Marshalls are open by April. A new Advance Auto Parts building opened first at the center. There are also some other buildings under construction. On Tuesday, work was being done for a new Krispy Kreme restaurant at the shopping center.
At the start of the redevelopment of the 230,000-square-foot Wyandotte Plaza, the cost of the project was estimated at $28 million. A community improvement district and bond issue was approved for the development.
Claflin linked the present redevelopment to the community’s efforts to build The Legends a decade ago.
“It was really commendable to the citizens of Kansas City, Kan., and the Unified Government to start the investment out there at The Legends and Village West,” Claflin said. “This is the payoff. This investment is starting to trickle back east.”
He said he anticipated that besides the benefits to the residents, there would be benefits to the local government as revenues rise.
Mayor Mark Holland said he was excited about the development.
“For the last decade, the whole region has celebrated the activity at The Legends, and all the great things that are happening at The Legends, and they’re saying, what about the rest of the city?” Mayor Holland said.
He said there have been six new grocery stores built in the past few years in Kansas City, Kan.
“We know that when the city invests in infrastructure and streets, curbs and sidewalks, it transforms the whole community,” Holland said. “I don’t know that RED Legacy would come here if we weren’t showing the investment in our infrastructure on State Avenue.”
A $15.4 million investment, the State Avenue corridor project was under construction 2.5 years, and was being planned and designed for two years prior to that, said County Engineer Bill Heatherman.
The State Avenue corridor improvement project went from 73rd to 94th streets on State Avenue, and curbs, sidewalks and medians were improved. There are wider sidewalks along State, median improvements and some changes including new traffic lights and bus stops along State Avenue.
Built in the late 1950s and 1960s, Wyandotte Plaza has had minimal investment since that time, Claflin said.
Joe Maderak, who founded Business West, described the rural nature of the area when he arrived here in 1925. He pointed out that some vacant buildings in the State Avenue area have been sold recently, and “things are beginning to move.”
He said he’s often been asked why he stayed in Wyandotte County.
“I’ll tell you,” he said. “My roots are here. The people are here. This is my hometown.”
Adam Ehlert of the T-Bones said that the State Avenue improvements were important for Village West because residents need to be able to travel west to The Legends area, and people already at The Legends area need to be able to travel east on State.
Commissioner Jane Philbrook, the president-elect of Business West, said that bringing business eastward toward the downtown Kansas City, Kan., area is one of the goals of these projects.
Also speaking at this event were Richard Napper of EPR Properties, financial partner to Schlitterbahn, and Chuck Stites, Schlitterbahn director of development.
“I hope you all are aware of the tremendous events and progress that has taken place at our project in the past 12 months,” Napper said. It started with the Schlitterbahn’s world’s tallest water slide.
The area near 98th and Parallel Parkway, at the Schlitterbahn area, is under development for a U.S. Soccer national training facility.
“It will be unlike anything else in this country or perhaps in the world,” Napper said, a “world-class facility.”
Additionally, site work has begun even through winter at I-435 and Parallel for the 60-acre auto mall and retail site, he said. There were extreme terrain challenges, and progress is being made on the site. He said the auto mall and retail site would have a great effect on the local and state economy for the tax base, jobs and sales growth.
“There are many other projects in the pipeline,” he said. “We are very hopeful in the next three to six to 12 months in conjunction with the UG to make other incredible announcements that will have a tremendous economic impact to this community and to the state of Kansas.”
Marisa Gray, president of Business West, welcomed new tenants to Wyandotte Plaza, including MeMa’s, Krispy Kreme, Marshalls and PetSmart, and the newly relocated Price Chopper. She said Business West assists businesses with any challenges they may have.
Other tenants of Wyandotte Plaza include Lufti’s Fried Fish, MeMa’s Old-Fashioned Bakery, Simply Fashion, Sally Beauty Supply, Glam Tresses, City G.E.A.R., Radio Shack, Papa Murphy’s, Hans Jewelers, Dollar Tree, Sherwin Williams, H&R Block, Easy Home Living, Burger King and Advance America.
Gray, also director of Workforce Development at Kansas City Kansas Community College, said the college was positioned to be both proactive and reactive to the needs of the community, making sure residents are educated and prepared for the work force.
Dave Hurrelbrink of the City Planning and Zoning Board said that the application for the new CommunityAmerica Credit Union building at Wyandotte Plaza passed the Planning Commission last night, and next will go before the UG Commission for approval.
Linda Boring, of CommunityAmerica Credit Union, said plans are to open the new credit union location in the first part of August of next year.