Olathe is Under Construction


Felicia Georgiou and Brian Beach

Olathe Lake

New construction is bringing something to Olathe that has never been seen: a beach! Lake Olathe is currently closed to the public while new improvements are being made. In the summer of 2019, you can except to see a revived lake. In the 1959 a 170-acre lake was constructed in Olathe. The city council now decided after about 60 years, that it is time to spruce up the lake and community park.

According to Olatheks.org, the master plan for Lake Olathe was approved by the city council in September of 2016.

The council decided on a budget for Olathe Lake Park Phase 1 to be just under 15 mil- lion dollars. Using that money, the council has plans for multiple improvements. The addition to Lake Olathe will included more entertainment places and facility updates.

The new aquatic developments are a swimming beach area, spray ground, aquatic learning area, marina, and fishing and dock pavilions. Also, additions to the park include 4 miles of hiking trials, a nature playground, an amphitheater, a zip line, gardens, and a renovated disc golf course.

A two-story rentable building called “The Landing” is also being constructed. It’s a 6,500 square-foot building and it will have glass all along the lake front,” said Mike Latka of Olathe Parks & Recreation Department.

An Olathe North senior, Courtney Kinzel, stated, “The new beach is going to be a great place to hang out in the summer.” She went on to say, “I believe the new renovations will not only bring more people to the lake, but also more interest to the city of Olathe.”

Chipotle and Starbucks

Next time when you are driving down the West side of Sante Fe and you realize you have some time to spare before school you can take a quick pit stop to grab a macchiato or even a burrito bowl. Chicken, steak, barbacoa, carnitas, lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, and frappuccinos are coming in the West Market Shopping Center with the addition of Chipotle and a Starbucks. The Chipotle will be located on the corner of Sante Fe and Parker. Starbucks will also be in the West Market on the corner of Loula and Parker.

According to www.olatheks.org, the city council voted 5-0 to make improvement to the West Market Shopping Center. Around 8.5 million dollars in renovations will be made for the new developments.

The construction of Chipotle has begun in the old site of the Brown Bag Liquor. The Liquor store moved across the street and the Chipotle will be using the basic structure of the old building. The MDDS Development LLC building company will be reroofing the building and creating a new parking spot for the upcoming Chipotle. They will also add a patio with chairs and tables for an outdoor dining options for patrons.

The BP gas station was taken down for the new Starbucks. MDDS Development will be constructing a drive thru along with the new building. They started framing the building at the beginning of November.

To pay for the new developments in the West Market Shopping Center there will be a 1% sales tax on the stores in the center. Scott Anderson, an attorney for the construction workers, said the tax would generate about $2.8 million to reimburse the developers for their construction expenses. This will include the Price Chopper, Chi- na 1, Papa Johns, Grumpy’s, KC Vape, UPS Store, Petland, and T-Mobile. McDonalds and Community America Credit Union Bank will be excluded from the sale taxes.

Brownlee, a Council member, stated that she thinks it is important to improve in retail sites. She thinks that an updated retail strip, with the additions of the Starbucks and Chipotle, will be a great improvement to the West Olathe area that will help the local economy.

Great Mall to Mentum

In 2016, the iconic Great Mall of the Great Plains was officially demolished, leaving behind a swath of barren land,

anchored only by a lone Burlington Coat Factory. However, this plot just northwest of I-35 and 151st Street could soon see new life thanks to a plan for a new retail and entertainment development. The project is called Mentum, a word which, according to Merriam Webster, means a median plate of the labium of an insect. Perhaps not the most comforting name when taken literally, but a press release from the developer Woodbury Corp. explains that the name is supposed to betoken, “an active and progressive mixed-use environment.”

So what does all this jargon mean? Well, according to the Kansas City Business Journal, the project, “includes plans for 250,000 square feet of entertainment, retail and restaurants; 200,000 square feet of office and medical office space; two hotels; and 300 apartments. Future additions could include a golf facility, cinema and fitness center.”

Don’t get too excited yet though, because the project has yet to be approved by the Olathe City Council, which only recently got a briefing on the plans. These plans include a request for a STAR bond from the state of Kansas, which allows sales taxes to be redirected back

to the development to pay for certain eligible cost. The only catch? The proj- ect must promote tourism to the state.

Accepting the request for STAR bonds is only the first step in a very long process for project approval, and Olathe city spokesman Tim Danneberg said recently that, “the council will spend a great deal of time in the coming weeks understanding the project.”

One of the most controversial as- pects of the new development is the plan for a new 4,000-seat hockey arena. The developer proposed for the arena to be the home of a semi-professional hockey team, and there are also plans that the facility will house the Kansas City Youth Hockey Association and work with the Kansas City Ice Center to attract youth hockey tournaments. While this would bring in a lot of tax dollars to the community, it also could raise traffic concerns, not to mention the fact that the arena is proposed to be less than eight miles from another planned hockey arena in Overland Park.

The Bluhawk arena, located at 159th Street and Antioch (near Blue Valley West) was initially supposed to house a professional hockey team and have a capacity of over 6,000 seats, but the local neighborhood objected to the plan due to traffic and noise concerns. Even with

the downsize, the arena is still expected to have a capacity of 3,500 and host numerous youth hockey tournaments.

Does south Johnson County need two large hockey arenas? Can these two developments survive if their primary tourism draw can also be found less than a 15-minute drive away? These are questions that both the Overland Park and Olathe City Councils and Planning Commissions must consider in the upcoming months. For now, the Bluhawk development has a head start on Mentum, as several buildings in the development, such as Casentino’s Market, are already open for business. Mentum, on the other hand, still only exists on paper. Regardless of the end result of these two dueling developments, one general truth will remain the same: there will continue be plenty of retail and entertainment options in south Johnson County. Which side of the city limits will find more success, however, is up for debate.

Given that the Olathe City Council has yet to approve the Mentum proposal and that this is a highly political issue, the City Council and Planning Commission were unable to issue any comments regarding the Mentum development for this newspaper.