Overland Park development stimulates area economy, attracts new residents

Jim Cunningham
August 16, 2018 - 5:35 am

Santa Fe Commons Park in Overland Park remains one of the busiest developments in the Kansas City area. 

All around 80th and Metcalf, new lofts and apartment buildings fill the skyline. It's exciting to Kate Sweeten, with Downtown Overland Park Partnership.

"We're seeing new residents -- we're seeing a lot of new interest in downtown Overland Park," Sweeten said. "There are a lot of eyes across Kansas City now looking at this area in a new light, that it's not kind of the old, sleepy downtown."

One important piece to all the downtown Overland Park redevelopment is more parking. New parking spaces have been added along 79th street. Another 400 are planned at 80th and Marty as part of the nearly $54 million five-story Edison OP project, set to begin this Fall.

People want an interesting place to live, work and play, said Carl Gerlach, Overland Park mayor. 

"They want to be able to live in a thriving area that they can walk out at night time, they can walk out during the day, they can work during the day or they can walk to a coffee shop before they go to work, and afterwards they can go to a restaurant, and they can do that," Gerlach said.

At the Downtown Farmers Market vendors are looking forward to the influx of new residents.

"It's pretty amazing, actually, that they're going to expect another thousand or 1,500 residents here," said Dave Derr, who runs the Wiener Wagon. "That's pretty cool."

Meanwhile, some people are not as enthusiastic about the growth and development. They hope the market and other local downtown businesses do not lose out on new opportunities.

"When you bring in all the shopping and consumerism, it brings in materialism, and I feel like it disconnects us from (the farmer's market)," said one woman.

Mayor Gerlach said they want to maintain the rich history of downtown Overland Park and they have no plans to change that.

"We have a lot of small bakeries, a lot of small shops that are still here," Gerlach said. "We aren't looking for a big Lowe's to come in here or a Home Depot."

Ten years ago, the city set out on the Vision Metcalf Plan, a strategic plan to increase residential development. Mayor Gerlach said he is happy to see it finally taking off.

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