A lackluster shopping center in Overland Park will receive public money for a facelift.
Hoping to revitalize the 87th Street corridor, the city council on Monday approved a Community Improvement District and the imposition of a 1 percent sales tax at the West Park Shopping Center, which is across from Johnson County Central Library.
The CID policy, which was approved in 2011, allows the city to help pay for projects that rejuvenate the city.
Around $1.5 million of public funding generated from the West Park CID will be used to help modernize and beautify the shopping center, which houses Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and the Johnson County Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Although every council member agreed West Park Shopping Center needed a makeover, the decision was far from clear-cut.
Councilmen Jim Hix and Fred Spears voted against the project. Hix voiced frustration that the city was too lenient in approving CID status. He worried that by approving a CID for West Park, every aging shopping center in the city would come asking for one.
He also expressed concern that the CID money would go toward maintenance, which the owner should pay for out of his own pocket.
The developer’s representative, John Petersen, disagreed.
“This is not an issue of replacing a roof; our premise is to maintain the neighborhood,” said Petersen, an attorney with Polsinelli Shughart. He said the CID would fund building improvements, new lighting, mill and overlay of the parking lot, and landscaping, which go beyond typical maintenance issues.
Councilman Terry Goodman said that he agreed with Hix that the council needs to be pickier when it comes to granting CIDs. He would like to see the governing body create a set of restrictions, to make the process easier and more defined. But until the council comes up with those restrictions, he didn’t think it was fair to deny West Park a CID, when the council had already approved similar ones in the recent past.
Especially since the improvements to the shopping center could be a catalyst for other redevelopment along 87th Street, Goodman said.
Mayor Carl Gerlach echoed Goodman’s thoughts. He said in the future he would like to see a policy for CID projects created, which would allow council members to base their decisions on guidelines, rather than just personal opinions.