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Study: sports complex
not the answer at I-435

by Stephanie Eaton
Landmark reporter

Residential development--and not a sports complex--would be the best fit for the area of I-435 and Hwy. 45 at Parkville, a study says.

A sports complex is not the best way to attract economic activity, the study at Parkville has determined.

The Parkville Board of Aldermen received the findings from the final report of the market feasibility and economic study for the intersection of Interstate 435 and Highway 45.

Tuesday's night meeting concluded a year long process that began in 2013 when a task force appointed by the Parkville Economic Development Council supported a concept to develop a youth sports park on the southeast quadrant to generate more tourism and economic activity in the area. However, at the conclusion of the meeting city officials said a sports complex would not be the best way to attract economic activity to the area.

During Tuesday night's meeting, Adam Kerns with Convention, Sports & Leisure (CSL), a company based out of Texas, and Pete DiSalvo with DiSalvo Development Advisors (DDA), a company based out of Ohio, presented the Parkville Board of Aldermen with the final report with the market feasibility and economic study.

On May 20 aldermen approved the two companies to perform a study to determine if a sports complex was feasible. The two companies were also asked to determine the best alternative development option if the sports park did not prove to be feasible.

Although the two companies were hired in 2014, this section of Parkville has been looked at for development for several years. In 2006, the City of Parkville responded to petitions and began the process to create two Neighborhood Improve Districts on an approximately 350-acre site located at the intersection of Interstate 435 and Highway 45.

City officials had hoped that public sewer and road improvement projects would spur private development on the site. City officials had also hoped that the site would include office and light industrial space, townhomes and single-family residential, multi-family residential and supporting retail uses.

However, due to various factors, including economic recession, private development did not occur. The only exception on the site was a convenience store.

The market feasibility and economic study researched several areas. Areas researched included stakeholder interviews, regional market characteristics, sports participation trends, utilization estimates, comparable facility reviews, and hotel/retail market analysis.

Kerns told the board that the study found that the best sports park concept was an eight-field soccer complex with supporting parking, concessions, and administrative space. Kerns said the project was not viable under current conditions. The capital cost was estimated at between $12 to $14 million, and said there was not an identified funding source for that cost. Kerns said county officials have turned down financing a soccer complex at that site. According to Kerns, other obstacles a possible sporting park would face was a lack of visitor related infrastructure.

“As a general rule, sports complexes in and of themselves are not big money makers,” Kerns said.

DiSalvo said the sports complex could not stand on its own and provided the board with a market feasibility for hotel and/or retail development as a support component to the proposed soccer complex.

While DiSalvo said that a market did exist to support a 65 room mid-priced hotel in Parkville, it did not exist in the study area. According to DiSalvo, the best location for a hotel to be placed in the Parkville community would be adjacent to downtown near Park University.

DiSalvo also provided the board with a retail analysis for the area. The results were also not favorable for the area.

“Traffic is everything to retailers,” DiSalvo said. “The traffic is not there.”

DiSalvo said attracting businesses to the area would not be an easy task.

“To get a retailer to come to that area would be very difficult.”

According to the study, the best use of the property would not be a sports complex. Instead officials believe the construction of a multi-family housing complex and year-round food and beverage business would be better use of the site because it will allow higher levels of tax revenues to the local economy.

Parkville City Administrator Lauren Palmer said while the study was being conducted, city officials have been also discussing the property and came to similar results to those found in the study.

“As this study has been going on, the mayor, the staff, Parkville Economic Development Council, we have had a number of ongoing discussions with all of the property owners in this area as well as various developers who have approached us with different concepts for things to do on these properties.”

Although they were approached by developers, city officials really were not able to engage in a lot of discussion about the area until the study was completed.

“We have really been sort of engaging those discussions but asking them to be patient with us so that we could complete this study and figure out what our next steps are,” Palmer said.

However, Palmer said city officials are concurring with the results of the study.

“I think the study has confirmed for us what we maybe knew intuitively which is a sports park would be a nice amenity to have to serve a recreational need in the Northland but the City of Parkville really isn't in a position to take on the capital investment that would be required to meet that need. I think the consultants are giving us an alternative of residential development that is certainly confirmed by what we have been hearing in our meetings with developers and with the property owners in that area.”
Palmer said now that the study has been completed that city officials will be looking more into residential development in the area and that may mean that city officials may begin discussions about public incentives. According to Palmer, public incentives have not been given for residential areas in Parkville.

“I think we can look at some creative solutions that will make a project work out here.”