Overland Park council members have high hopes that a widely anticipated museum will become a landmark for the city.
The council on Monday night approved final plans for the museum, which will feature exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The museum will be a part of the $427 million Prairiefire project at Lionsgate, which the council approved in April. The governing body had stipulated back then that all final development plans must be brought before them for approval.
The 60-acre entertainment, shopping and residential district is slated for 135th Street and Nall Avenue.
The developer, Merrill Cos. LLC, hired Boston-based museum architecture firm Verner Johnson to design the building. A striking metal and glass entrance will resemble fire on the prairie. The building will be constructed out of limestone.
Many of the council members were dazzled by the artistic design.
Councilman David White hopes the museum will become as significant as other memorable landmarks in the Kansas City area, such as the giant badminton shuttlecocks at the Nelson Art Museum.
“This (building) may evoke some controversy, but I think it is going to be iconic,” he said. “Maybe someday in the future when people think of Overland Park, they will think of flames and limestone.”
In addition to the museum, Prairiefire will feature apartments, villas, restaurants, a movie theater, an upscale bowling alley, a high-end boutique hotel, among other amenities.
Also Monday, the council also approved a $62 million bond and 75 percent tax abatement over a 10-year period for Black and Veatch to assist with renovation of the company’s headquarters, located at 11401 Lamar Ave.
In 2009, the council approved the first bond for $60 million and a tax break to help the company finance their current location. The council did so in hopes of keeping the Black and Veatch headquarters in Overland Park.
A couple of residents expressed outrage at the decision, however, stating they didn’t think the powerful corporation needed financial help from the city.
Councilman Curt Skoog pointed out to the upset residents that when the council approved the first bond in 2009, it had a very extensive discussion on why Black and Veatch should be granted financial assistance. And the council approved the first bond back then knowing there may be a couple more to come in the future, he added.
Goodman, while agreeing, also felt the residents had a point. He hinted that the council needed to start thinking about being more selective about what projects to finance in the future.