New plan for old Overland Park Sears site on Metcalf clears hurdle

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A dense apartment complex planned at the former site of the Metcalf South shopping mall in Overland Park can go forward.

The proposal calls for more than 300 apartments near the corner of 97th Street and Metcalf Avenue, a key intersection in the wider Vision Metcalf plan. This replaces a previous plan to build a Life Time Fitness health club on the site.

The Overland Park Planning Commission on Monday voted 7-1 to recommend approval of the rezoning to the Planned High-Rise Apartment District, or R-6, despite significant pushback from residents in the neighboring Pinehurst Estates and Nall Hills subdivisions.

The planning commission also voted 8-0 to recommend approval of a revised preliminary development plan for the broader Metcalf South area, which divides the proposed apartments from the other sectors dedicated to commercial development.

300+ apartments are planned at the Metcalf South site

  • Thompson Thrift, a developer with multiple apartment developments across the U.S., intends to build a total of 303 apartments at the former mall site.
  • Those will be divided up between two separate four-story buildings on roughly 10 acres.
  • The plan also calls for a clubhouse, a pool and a dog park.

Plans to develop Metcalf South site have made progress

Historically, that corner in the middle of Overland Park was a bustling retail district. When the Metcalf South Shopping Center closed in 2014, it had served the community for about 50 years.

Since then, redevelopment efforts have met with somewhat mixed results.

This section of the Metcalf South site was at one point previously identified for another apartment proposal and, later, a collection of commercial buildings around a 93,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness. Both of those plans fell through.

Eventually, the lingering Sears building, which closed in 2017, was demolished, starting in 2022. A Lowe’s home improvement store replaced part of the mall property that once housed a Macy’s department store and the Glenwood Arts theater.

Last year, Texas Roadhouse opened a new restaurant at 9761 Metcalf Ave., and a QuikTrip convenience store and gas station have also opened nearby.

Neighbors are concerned about safety, traffic and privacy

  • Neighbors from surrounding single-family neighborhoods and a representative from the nearby duplexes came out in force to the planning commission meeting on Monday.
  • The vast majority of the more than 15 speakers were adamantly opposed to the new  apartment proposal.
  • Concerns expressed during public comment ran the gamut — such as traffic, safety, privacy and the fit of the development with the area.
  • “This is my community, and I want it to stay a livable community for families with children going forward,” said Donna Mountain, who lives in Pinehurst. “I feel this project is really too big, too massive for the site that it is being proposed.”
  • Other individuals offered alternatives to the apartments, mentioning instead that they hoped for more retail and restaurants.
Thompson Thrift plans to build about 300 apartments near 97th Street and Metcalf on the former Metcalf South shopping mall site.
Proposed Thompson Thrift apartments near 97th and Metcalf. Image via Overland Park planning documents.

Commissioners were conflicted about apartments

Most of the planning commission members who spoke during the meeting were seemingly on the fence about the proposal to build hundreds of apartments at 97th and Metcalf. Additionally, many commissioners said they felt the project was less than perfect for the site.

Commissioner Ned Reitzes, who once lived in the area, said he’d have certainly opposed the development if it had been proposed when he lived there.

“I’m trying to balance the needs of the neighbors in Nall Hills with the needs of the community,” he said. “It’s vitally important that we do this correctly, that we take the right steps.”

Commissioner Jennifer Poppe, who does live in Nall Hills today, also struggled on which way to vote.

“I think this might be the best case scenario for the neighborhood when it comes to what’s going to go in here,” she said. “I’m concerned about what comes next if this doesn’t go through.”

In the end, the majority of the commission felt the redevelopment effort was good enough to go forward.

Next steps:

  • Both the rezoning and revised preliminary development plan head to the Overland Park City Council next.
  • The items are scheduled for the June 3 meeting, which will convene at 7:30 p.m.

Keep reading: Overland Park adopts first new comprehensive plan in 4 decades

About the author

Kaylie McLaughlin
Kaylie McLaughlin

👋 Hi! I’m Kaylie McLaughlin, and I cover Overland Park and Olathe for the Johnson County Post.

I grew up in Shawnee and graduated from Mill Valley in 2017. I attended Kansas State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2021. While there, I worked for the K-State Collegian, serving as the editor-in-chief. As a student, I interned for the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT in Topeka. I also contributed to the KLC Journal and the Kansas Reflector. Before joining the Post in 2023 as a full-time reporter, I worked for the Olathe Reporter.