Residents in the affluent neighborhoods of Westwood Hills and Westwood, Kansas are concerned about a proposed office and retail development that could potentially change the landscape of their community. The development, being proposed by the Karbank Real Estate Co., would span approximately 4 acres and include four buildings at three and four stories tall. The project would provide 91,000 square feet of office space and 26,000 square feet of retail, with parking available for 367 cars.
One of the main points of contention is the location of the development, which would replace Joe D. Dennis Park, the only city park in Westwood. Residents argue that the park, with its fountain, tennis court, and playground, is an integral part of the community and should be preserved. Additionally, neighbors are concerned about the size and design of the proposed project, stating that it is too tall and corporate-looking for a residential neighborhood.
City leaders, however, believe that the development would be a huge benefit to the community. The city would use tax increment financing funds generated by the project to replace the existing park with a new and larger 3.5-acre park on the grounds of the former Westwood View Elementary School. The City Planning Commission is set to consider the project on September 11, with the mayor and City Council potentially taking it up on October 12.
Opponents of the development are planning to gather support through a protest petition, which would require 75% of the vote from the council and mayor to approve the development if deemed valid. While some residents feel that stopping the project may be a long shot, they are determined to voice their concerns and find alternative solutions that could preserve the park and maintain the residential character of the neighborhood.
Sources: The Kansas City Star