Pending development east of I-29 needs public input

Those envisioning a full-scale retail development to enhance the east side of Platte City might need to temper expectations. At a lightly attended public forum held Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Platte Valley Bank in Platte City, consultants began the task of laying out a timeline and gathering input for the potential usage of about 300 acres of land located east of Interstate 29 between Highway 92 and HH Highway. The topography presents certain challenges, specifically for access — both in transportation and infrastructure.

That means that usage will likely vary between light industrial, residential and yes, retail.

“This is a long-term vision, long-term project and literally could take years to build out,” said Jim Harpool, vice president for development with R.H. Johnson Company. “The idea is to build three alternate concepts and each of those with some built-in flexibility.”

The City of Platte City continues to work with R.H. Johnson, which touts itself as Kansas City’s market leader in retail real estate service, on a partnership to promote development of the city land and about 260 acres the Laderoute family owns to the east and stretching south toward Highway 92. Currently, a sewer extension is being built underneath I-29 to the city’s portion of land, located in the northwest corner.

The sewer project should be completed by the end of the summer, and construction on the undeveloped land could start soon.

However, R.H. Johnson in conjunction with Confluence — a landscape architecture firm — wants to create master and alternative plans to help map out the site as well as design guidelines for architecture, landscaping, signage, lighting, etc. That process remains in the early stages with public input desired.

Ideas on desired development can be submitted to Harpool at jharpool@rhjohnson or to the City of Platte City through the city’s website.

“We’ll give you a little overview from the development side, what they see over there,” Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt said, “and then try to get your input of what you’d like to see over there — your vision of Platte City as it is, that portion of Platte City as it could be and then the combined, perhaps what Platte City should be.”

The goal is to identify the best use for not only the city’s plot of land but to tie that into the larger acreage. The consultants want to identify major access points and how to best create a gateway connecting both sides of Platte City.

In taking an initial look at land usage, Harpool noted that retail development has slowed in recent years.

That means that office space, light industrial/warehouse, office (specifically medical and small business) and residential all have components at the site, as long as they are perceived to be sustainable. Intial feedback centered around dining, shopping and entertainment options, but the discussion soon drifted to other possibilities.

David Sharp, a citizen and member of Platte City’s Planning and Zoning Commission, brought up the ideas of a more upscale hotel, car rental facility, industrial areas and different types of housing — including senior/assisted living and larger one-family options. Specifically, the northeast corner on the back side of the main ridge in the property was cited as a place for larger, high-income houses.

The industrial talk steered away from businesses that would require a large amount of truck/machinery traffic.

Normally, Harpool said that about 1 million square feet of development can occur for every 100 acres. However, the challenges of this site will likely limit that number.

The city will likely need earth moved from the adjacent portion to help overcome sightline/drainage issues to make it developable. The grading and slopes will also determine the best way to create a road system that connects 92 on the south to HH on the north.

Development could begin on either end, which makes the planning process that much more important. The difference in elevation from the high point on the north to the low points on the south is about 175 feet.

“We’ve done some initial analysis just looking at the entire property,” said Chris Cline, principal architect with Confluence. “There’s a lot of topography to deal with.”

In trying to create a plan, the size of tenants could be limited by designing the best way to connect roadways and sewer infrastructure. It’s also possible that full connection of the major roadways would happen over time with full buildout taking anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

All of the land resides within city limits, leaving Platte City with the ability to control the zoning. However, officials must work with the adjacent property owner to ensure that development fits the best interest of both parties.

“We’re going to try to put out a road map of kind of what we want,” Gehrt said. “The private sector and the private sector development, what happens there is going to drive the actual outcome. Government’s job is to set the stage and provide the foundation, and the private sector makes a lot of those decisions.

“Tonight, we are trying to set that stage.”