by Alan McArthur
Development was the topic of conversation in Parkville on Tuesday night. More specifically the lack of development on the property around the intersection of Highway 45 and Interstate 435.
The first bond payments are due in 2015 to pay for improvements, which were constructed through two Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) projects. The Brush Creek NID allowed the construction of a sewer line to serve the area and the Brink Meyer NID realigned a portion of Brink Meyer Road and constructed a retaining wall.
Through the NID setup, the cost of the improvements is assessed against the properties within the district, but the city is responsible for any shortfall in payments.
The first payment for all of the 10 properties in the districts is $669,894.74. The only property to have any development since the districts were created in 2006 is a gas station/convenience store at the corner of Brink Meyer Road and Highway 45.
Sean Ackerson, assistant city administrator and community development director, told the board the original plan was to develop all of the properties at one time in order to remove dirt in some areas and fill other areas. However, the properties are now owned by several different banks, which may make it more difficult to have everything develop at once.
The southwest corner was planned as a business park with offices and warehouse space. The northwest area was planned as a mixed commercial and residential area and the southeast area was planned to have higher density residential development with apartments and townhomes.
Ackerson said that the city has had quite a few developers express interest in the area, but are only interested in construction on a small portion of the property. He said there could be problems if the city allows small developments to occur on some of the property.
Some properties have higher bond payments than others and so those properties with a higher payment need to have higher density to support the payment. If the project is divided up then apartments could develop on a different property with a cheaper payment and reduce demand to construct apartments on the higher payment property. If the property doesn't develop it could leave the city on the hook for that portion of the payment.
Lauren Palmer, city administrator, said city staff had spoken with some of the bank owners about lowering the selling prices of the properties to spur development, but the banks want the city to waive the payment on the NIDs instead.
“(The banks) may be more motivated sellers after the first payments are due,” Palmer told the board.
Palmer said some of the banks had suggested they might not pay the assessments for the properties, leaving the city on the hook. Parkville has been building up the emergency reserve fund in the past couple years at the direction of the board in anticipation of a shortfall on bond payments.
If a bank did not pay, then the property would go up for a tax sale and the city would be able to acquire the property and have more control to seek a developer.
Palmer said she thinks there is a middle ground where the city can offer development incentives and the banks can lower their prices to help jump-start development on the properties.
David Jones, alderman, said he is worried about other developments going in nearby which may saturate the market. The Chapel Ridge development has been approved outside of the city limits for a single-family housing development at K Highway and 45 Highway. Another development at the same intersection was approved for mixed apartment, townhomes and some commercial development.
The developments were approved by the county, but may take several years to fully construct and develop at those sites.
Some aldermen suggested waiting to see if there will be more interest in the near future.
“We would be well served to wait a few months,” said Jim Werner, alderman. “We are willing to listen to any developer. We are business people who want to do what's right for the city.”
The board did not take any action at the meeting, but did provide direction to staff to continue talking with potential developers of the site.