by Dan Rafter
There’s plenty to like about downtown Overland Park in Kansas: The city’s urban center is pedestrian-friendly, dotted with shops and restaurants. It boasts an active farmer’s market, a busy community center and an historic theater that brings charm to the area.
What does it need? More multifamily development.
Developer Hunt Midwest is ready to help lessen some of this shortage. The company earlier this year closed on a 2.5-acre site in downtown Overland Park. Starting this year, it will begin site-preparation work on The Vue, a 219-unit mixed-use luxury apartmet project.
The Vue will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments resting above 1,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The project will also include a multi-level parking garage.
Brenner Holland, vice president and general manager of Hunt Midwest’s residential division, said that the location is the perfect fit for such a high-end apartment project.
“We have the opportunity to bring several hundred new residents to what is already a dynamic community,” Holland said. “This project will provide support to the retailers and shops that are already operating in this part of Overland Park. We think an apartment project like this will only help the community to grow forward in the future, to continue to grow into the eclectic, fun and funky place it already is.”
Ora Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of Hunt Midwest, said that the demand for mixed-use retail and apartment projects continues to grow across the Midwest.
The reason is obvious: A mixed-use project that includes both retail and residential gives tenants more options. And when these properties are located in the middle of urban centers, tenants can ditch their cars for long periods of time and instead walk or take public transportation to their jobs, nearby restaurants, shops and entertainment options.
This type of urban living isn’t for everyone. And there is still a demand for the conveniences of suburban living. But a large number of consumers, both young and old, are seeking the excitement and energy that comes with city life. Projects like The Vue are a reflection of this.
“People are moving into these mixed-use environments where they can do it all,” Reynolds said. “That is the beauty of a project like this. Overland Park has the farmer’s market, an eclectic mix of shops, a community center. It plays well for both Millennials and empty nesters. So we can bring both of these demographic groups together in a unique environment.”
At the same time, Overland Park is located in a swath of the Kansas City market that offers plenty of jobs for residents.
“We are looking for people who are transitioning,” Reynolds said. “This might mean younger adults who are transitioning into their first or second apartment. It might mean the empty nesters who want a lock-and-leave-it lifestyle so that they can spend a few months in Florida without worrying about getting a single-family home ready before they go.”
Holland said that those residents who do move into The Vue will have plenty to do. The Matt Ross Community Center is located adjacent to the property on its south side. This property comes with a fitness center that will appeal to many residents of The Vue. Overland Park’s busy farmer’s market operates from a swath of land on the northwest corner of The Vue. The city’s historic Rio Theater is just a short walk from the site.
New multifamily projects today usually boast higher-end amenities. Holland said that The Vue is no exception. He pointed to the project’s central courtyard that will include a saltwater pool, outdoor bar, kitchen area, fire pit and private conversation nooks.
The Vue will also feature a two-story clubhouse and leasing-office area. This area will include a private workout room, a WiFi-enabled tech cafe, a game room and a deck that overlooks the street.
Infill projects such as The Vue are more challenging for developers, Reynolds said. It’s easier to find a plot of empty land in the suburbs and build from scratch. For a project like The Vue, though, construction crews will be working in a smaller space, and will have to make sure that construction activities cause as little disruption to the surrounding businesses as possible. Hunt Midwest also had to meet with stakeholders in the area to make sure that they were supportive of the new construction.
Despite these extra challenges, the rewards for successfully completing a project like The Vue are great. And Reynolds said that she expects developers to continue to hunt for the right locations for such infill projects.
“As they age, people are looking for something that doesn’t require as much maintenance,” Reynolds said. “As people are waiting longer to get married and have children, they are looking for projects like The Vue that come with the higher-end amenities they want. They can afford to buy homes, but they are interested instead in a different sort of lifestyle.”