Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Bunch of Us "Told ya So" - Let's Learn From This

Well, after only three years in business Nuts and Bolts at the Shawnee Parkway Plaza is closing.  Some folks are going to get upset by what I am about to say.  It was the ownership of this Nuts and Bolts that were the owners/force behind the shopping center's redevelopment.  Tough.

When this project came up for approval there were many folks that were concerned about the amount and number of incentives.  Also did we really need another hardware store to compete with Ace Westlake, Hartman, Lowes, Home Depot, and yes even Wal Mart?  And, why was the council actually paying for this company to compete against existing businesses? 

On a positive note, the shopping center does look better than before the remodeling.  Ironically, Nuts and Bolts was almost the last business to occupy its spot.  Also the two businesses that seem to be the most prolific are Johnny's Tavern who moved from across the Parkway to a larger venue and Savers which was in the shopping center before the center was sold to the current owners.

Now, let's look at two other projects that are still in the works.

Belmont Promenade:  When first presented to the city the developer regaled everyone with tales of how the proposed center would have upscale retail and dining establishments.  He even paraded a group of HS students to the podium who just gushed about how fortunate they would be to have local jobs instead of having to work at Village West/The Legends.  Then the plans change and now the developer wants to make it a multi-use project.  What happened to those upscale retail and dining establishments?  Now it appears that any retail and dining will be common and ordinary.  That is if the council goes along with the massive economic incentives.  And why has the developer never revealed what establishments have committed or expressed an interest in the project.  Ahhh, that's confidential.  Horse patootie.  Other developments in the metro have indicated who they are bringing in ahead of their municipalities' approving funding.

Westbrooke Green:  OK, the positive thing about this project is the potential to redevelop a very large, dormant shopping center at the intersection of two major thoroughfares in Shawnee.  But what has transpired.  Again, we were regaled with overt pomposity about upscale merchants and eating establishments in this proposed multi-use development.  A local citizen even addressed the council saying she could name class restaurants in Overland Park but not Shawnee and this would bring those types of establishments to Shawnee.  I say horse patootie to that one too.  In December 2017 when the project came for a vote before the council, the council was asked to table it for 30 days?  Why?  Because in January the new council would be seated (3 seats were changing) and it was felt by some that those voting on this project (regardless of what that vote was) should be around to be held accountable.  Couldn't be done.  It was important to move forward quickly as that would throw the timetable off.  Couldn't delay 30 days.  Demolition of the existing center was to begin October 2018.  So, what happens?  The developer asks for an extension of the demolition to August 2019.  So much for saving time.  Why the extension?  According to the developer's attorney the financial stack had not been completed.  Interpret that to mean they had not been able to arrange financing.  Strange, since this developer we were told had an extremely positive track record.  And again, there is no indication of who the retail and dining establishments would be.  Anyway, I challenged the council to a bet that demolition would not begin in August and that the developer would be asking for another extension.  Nobody on the council accepted the challenge but the developer's attorney did.  Dinner at the Hereford House is the challenge.

Going forward it has been suggested to council that developers produce letters of commitment or intent from merchants before votes are taken on approving any financial incentives.