The owner of Ranchmart North shopping center in Leawood is asking the city for public help to upgrade the aging shopping center.
Ranchmart North LLC, owned by Bank of Blue Valley President Bob Regnier and his brother and sister, has applied for a Community Improvement District, in which the city imposes an extra 1 percent sales tax at the center. The owner then uses the proceeds of the tax to upgrades the center.
The extra tax would bring the sales tax at Ranchmart North to 9.65 percent.
Regnier discussed his request with the Leawood City Council at a workshop last week as the city council moves into an unofficial phase two regarding Ranchmart North. After a year-long controversy over a barbecue restaurant proposed for the old post office at Ranchmart, the city council in December rezoned the post office at 3500 W. 95th to low-volume retail. Restaurants or taverns are expressly prohibited.
The city would like to use the proceeds from community improvement district sales tax to reconfigure and improve the parking lot at Ranchmart North. The city wants new and wider sidewalks along 95th street and Mission Road and to change the drive-through route around the McDonald’s.
Leawood Public Works Director Joe Johnson said the changes were sorely needed. “The parking lot is very accident prone and isn’t very pedestrian friendly,” he said.
According to Regnier, “McDonald’s is improving all their drive-throughs.”
Regnier said the family intends to use the sales tax money to update signage and plantings but gave few other details. Regnier said he would have more details about the family’s plans for the shopping center at another city council workshop on the matter April 15.
Mayor Peggy Dunn said the preliminary plan lacks detail. She said city staff investigated how these proposed modifications compared with Leawood development ordinances.
“There were about 15 areas where they (Ranchmart North Shopping Center LLC) could not respond,” Dunn said. “So what we have is broad and conceptual. We have no preliminary plan in front of us.”
Dunn said she thinks “we’re headed in the right direction.”
Regnier and his family have owned the shopping center since the siblings’ father passed away in 2000. Regnier says his father built the shopping center in 1960.
Several years ago, the Kansas Legislature passed a law allowing city governing bodies to use a sales tax increase of up to two percent for retail improvements.
“It’s a vehicle that a lot of people have used,” Regnier said. “They used it at 119th and Roe (The Town Center Plaza) and at Corinth” for the Corinth shopping center, 83rd and Mission Road.
Seth Berry, a Ranchmart North neighbor who helped lead the charge against the barbecue restaurant last year, said he was pleased with Regnier’s plans for a community improvement district.
“With the 1 percent sales tax (increase), we have an opportunity to see good improvements,” Berry said.