|By Kevin Collison, The Kansas City Star,
Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 5, 2010--A $35 million development that would transform a bland stretch of Rainbow Boulevard with new restaurants, apartments and a hotel is in the works.
The project, called 39 Rainbow, is planned for a two-block site between Rainbow and Adams Street, from 39th Street to 40th Avenue. The target market is the thousands of employees and visitors across Rainbow at the University of Kansas Medical Center and KU Hospital.
The developer, Lane4 Property Group, has assembled the necessary properties, and a development agreement is scheduled to be considered Feb. 18 by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.
"We believe it's the first new major retail development in that Rosedale area in 30 years," Mayor Joe Reardon said Thursday.
"Our largest employer is the KU Medical Center and hospital. Being able to provide an opportunity for people who work there and visit there with restaurants, a hotel and apartments is a great thing."
Deputy county administrator Doug Bach said the project fits the master plan developed for the Rosedale neighborhood and Rainbow corridor.
"It's an area that we've looked at over the years and felt there was more development potential," he said. "There are 8,000 employees at KU and the hospital, and we have never capitalized on that potential."
The plan calls for the demolition of several businesses, including the Sun Inn motel and Jaywalkers Sports Bar & Grill, and eight rental homes. A Taco Bell restaurant would remain along with a small office building and apartment building. Marty Avenue, between Rainbow and Adams, would be closed.
The project calls for a more urban-style design with three- and four-story buildings, and parking for 331 cars. It would include 30,000 square feet of retail space, an 89-room hotel and 68 apartments. Davidson-Brown of Lenexa is the architect.
"This is one of those sites that probably should have incurred this development 10 years ago," said Hunter Harris, development director at Lane4. "There are well over 10,000 jobs on that street, and that campus and facility will continue to grow."
This would be the second-largest development Lane4 is pursuing in Wyandotte County. The firm also is teaming with OnGoal LLC to develop a Kansas City Wizards soccer stadium and Cerner Corp. office project at Village West.
A tax increment financing district already has been approved for the 39 Rainbow project, and about $6 million in TIF financing is being requested. The developers have not finalized their private financing but are in discussions with several potential lenders, Harris said.
Lane4 would like to begin construction this summer, with the first components of the project to begin opening in fall 2011.
F. Chase Simmons, an attorney at Polsinelli Shughart, is the development attorney. He said the project has attracted strong interest from national and regional fast-casual restaurants, and more upscale restaurateurs also may be potential tenants.
The project would vie with the restaurants and other businesses along 39th Street across State Line Road.
"There is some neat retail on the Missouri side, but nothing that will attract people consistently at the medical center," Simmons said.
"We're also very comfortable there's a hotel market there. The medical center generates a lot of hotel nights, with most people going to Westport and the Plaza."
While 39th Street in Kansas City has a number of established restaurants, efforts to attract new development on the Missouri side have faltered in recent years.
An $8.4 million plan pitched in 2008 that would have replaced a vacant Pizza Hut at 39th and State Line with 46 apartments and retail space saw its request for a property tax break turned down by the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.
A spokesman for KU Hospital said the 39 Rainbow project would benefit the institution.
"We're following the lead of the Rosedale Development Association," said Dennis McCulloch. "Any plan consistent with their development plan, which we think this will be, is great.
The mayor thinks the plan, as it's now being presented, should win approval from Wyandotte County.
"My sense is this is the kind of quality development we want to have happen," Reardon said. "Given what I'm seeing, I'm hoping for a positive outcome."
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