City to Buy Flooded Retail Spaces at 103rd & Wornall
By John Sharp
The city recently has approved three major items that should all have a positive impact on south Kansas City – the buyout of the periodically flooded commercial area on the north side of 103rd St just west of Wornall Rd., the improvement of 155th St. leading into the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, and the plans for Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City.
The City Council on September 20 authorized the City Director of Public Works to purchase the 3.25 acre flood prone 103 Square commercial area including three now vacant buildings that once housed the popular Coach’s Bar & Grill and several other businesses for approximately $1.8 million.
The area being purchased extends from Wornall Rd. nearly to the Molle Volkswagen dealership and from 103rd St. to Indian Creek.
The property is in the floodway which is the highest flood hazard designation, according to Tom Kimes, city stormwater utility engineering manager. Kimes said following an extensive study after the 2017 Indian Creek flooding, city staff determined it would be much cheaper to buy out the property than to widen and deepen the Indian Creek channel to minimize the risk of future flooding.
Kimes said the study showed the creek channel would have to be widened by more than 30 feet and deepened by more than 10 feet to minimize the flooding risk which could cost in the neighborhood of the approximately $100 million spent on Brush Creek channel improvements.
The city earlier had bought out two houses on the north side of Indian Creek just west of the QuikTrip on Wornall Rd. that also had been severely damaged by the 2017 flooding.
While land in a floodway cannot legally be built upon in any way that would impede water flow, Mark McHenry, director of the City Parks & Recreation Department, said his Department is very open to making the area green space.
Wonderscope’s plans to build a 30,000 square foot museum facing Red Bridge Rd. in the northwest corner of the Red Bridge Shopping Center were unanimously approved by the City Plan Commission on September 18.
Construction of the museum should start in January or February following demolition of the closed La Petite Academy at the site, Mark Johnson, director of project management for CBRE, Inc., the owner’s representative on the project, said at a September 25 meeting of the Center Planning & Development Council.
Museum Executive Director Roxane Hill said at the meeting that the museum expects to open in late 2019 or early 2020. She has said previously she expects the museum to draw about 200,000 visitors during its first year of operation.
Hill also explained that the museum recently received a commitment to match all donations dollar for dollar through the end of the year up to $4 million for the $15 million capital campaign for construction of the museum.
Also on September 20 the City Council authorized the Director of Public Works to sign a nearly $3.5 million contract with Leavenworth Excavation and Equipment Co. to widen and improve 155th St. from the railroad tracks near Scott Ave. just west of the I-49 interchange to Kensington Ave.
The street is now just a 2-lane asphalt roadway with no curbs, sidewalks or street lights. It carries heavy traffic from trucks hauling cars to the Adesa Kansas City auto auction on the south side of the street as well as traffic to other businesses that have located at the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base.
Chad Thompson, assistant city engineer, said the street will be widened to four lanes with a median. He said a trail will be constructed on the south side of the street and a sidewalk will be constructed on the north side. Curbs, gutters and streetlights also will be installed, he said.
He noted the improved street will be asphalt, but the turning areas into and out of the auto auction will be concrete to accommodate the heavy trucks using it. He explained the auto auction is contributing just under $1.5 million for the project.
Work should start this fall, Thompson said, and is expected to be completed by next fall.
Grandview and Belton already have improved 155th St. east of I-49 and the Missouri Department of Transportation has rebuilt the I-49 interchange and added a roundabout on its east side.
John Sharp is a former city councilman for the 6th District