Thank you to the more than 1,000 people who signed our petition!
Despite this, on September 21 the City Plan Commission approved this project to go forward to the City Council. We believe this decision resulted, in part, from inaccurate, misleading, and incomplete information provided to the Commission. This page has been revised to clarify the relevant information as this proposed project moves to the City Council.
We are concerned neighbors and residents of the 4500 block of Troost and Gillham Rd. who don't want to see our homes, our neighborhood, and the Troost corridor damaged by irresponsible development. We strongly support efforts to redevelop the Troost side of our block that are appropriate for a diverse and inclusive urban core neighborhood. But we are strongly opposed to the KC Outlook project as currently proposed.
At the September 21, 2021 City Plan Commission hearing Olofu Agbaji from the Department of City Planning testified,
"(It is required) . . . that the plan be revised to add language on the face of the plan stating that the UR plan will abide by the Troost Overlay District."
"Everything that is required by the Troost Overlay will be adhered to by this plan."
This second statement was a response to a direct question from a commissioner and significantly affected deliberations.
But reading the plan shows that the proposed KC Outlook project does not conform to the Troost Overlay. It also does not conform with the adopted redevelopment plan for this area, the Troost-Emanuel Cleaver II Redevelopment Plan. This second issue--conformance with the Troost-Cleaver II Plan--is a legal requirement for approving the KC Outlook project, and the project clearly fails to conform to this plan.
Both the Troost Overlay and the Troost-Cleaver II plan were developed through a participatory planning process involving landowners, neighbors, Kansas City citizens, and staff of the Department of City Planning. Both are supported by this block and this neighborhood, and both were adopted by the City Council.
How does the KC Outlook project violate the Troost Overlay?
There are at least three ways that the KC Outlook project violates the Troost Overaly:
1. "Flex" buildings prohibited in Troost Corridor without Special Use Permit.
The buildings proposed for the KC Outlook project are defined as "Flex" by the Overlay (Table 2.2). The Overlay explicitly prohibits Flex buildings from being built in the Troost corridor unless approved through a Special Use Permit (Design Standards 2.a, 2.b, Table 2.1, pp. 5-6 of Overlay). Because there has been no application for a special use permit and the requirements for a special use permit have not been met, the KC Outlook project clearly violates this requirement of the Troost Overlay.
While this violation of the Overlay is clear, opinions offered by City Planning staff have obscured this unambiguous point. In the staff report for the September 21, 2021 City Plan Commission hearing, and in direct communication with neighborhood representatives, Olofu Abaji of the Department of City Planning states that section 88-517-09-D of the Zoning and Development Code makes it possible to approve the KC Outlook without requiring a Special Use Permit. This section of the code states:
“If a use that would have required special use approval is approved on a development plan, no
separate special use review will be required.”
The City Council does have the authority to approve the KC Outlook project without requiring it to be approved through the special use permit process. But this does not mean the project conforms to this requirement of the Troost Overlay. Instead, if the City Council approves this project without requiring it to meet the Design Standards of the Overlay it will be approving an exception to the requirements of the Overlay. It is not reasonable to conclude otherwise.
If the City Council does approve the KC Outlook project without requiring it to meet the requirements of a Special Use Permit it will violate the requirement imposed at the City Plan Commission hearing that it abide by the Troost Overlay.
2. Overlay designates 4500 block of Troost as "medium density residential."
The Troost Overlay (Design Standards 2.d.ii, p. 6 and Attachment C) clearly designates the 4500 block of Troost Ave. as a "Urban Corridor." This is defined as "medium density residential". Commercial uses are not permitted in an Urban Corridor area unless approved through a special use permit. Because the KC Outlook project dedicates roughly 25% of its floor area to non-residential uses and has not applied for a special use permit it violates this section of the Design Standards of the Troost Overlay.
3. KC Outlook does not meet parking requirements of Troost Overlay.
The Overlay (section 7 Parking and Loading) adopts the parking standards of the City of Kansas City Zoning and Development Code (88-420). The northern building in the KC Outlook project does not meet the parking requirements of 88-420, and therefore does not meet this requirement of the Troost Overlay. The plan for the northern building includes 25 parking spaces for residential uses only. The developer estimates the commercial uses would require an additional 33 parking spaces, which they request to be waived. This means the proposed plan provides less than half of the parking required for the northern building under the city parking ordinance, which is the standard adopted by the Troost Overlay. City Council can grant a variance from 88-420, but granting this variance is yet another way that the proposed project does not conform to the Troost Overlay. The provision of adequate parking is also one of the conditions for a special use permit, which adds additional importance to this issue.
Does the KC Outlook project conform with the Troost-Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard Redevelopment & Implementation Plan?
The Troost-Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard Redevelopment & Implementation Plan is a redevelopment plan adopted by City Council (resolution 140996) in 2015 for the KC Outlook project area. It was developed with extensive input from the community, and was adopted "for the purpose of guiding redevelopment in the Troost-Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard area".
The Troost-Cleaver II plan makes detailed recommendations for redevelopment of the parcels in this project, and recommends between 42 and 66 live/work units, containing between 38,000 and 59,000 square feet of total floor space, in either two or three-story buildings (p. 24). The Troost-Cleaver plan recommends no structure taller than three stories in the entire planning area.
The proposed KC Outlook plan proposes roughly two to three times the floor area, buildings one or two stories taller, and uses not recommended by the Troost-Cleaver plan for these parcels. Therefore, it is clearly does not conform with this adopted redevelopment plan.
The Troost-Cleaver II plan recommendations also adhere to the requirements of the Troost Overlay and recommend residential or "live/work" development on the parcels included in the KC Outlook project, which is consistent with the designation of this block as Urban Corridor (medium density residential).
Why is the Troost-Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard Redevelopment & Implementation Plan relevant now?
The KC Outlook project sponsors have requested that the project parcels be rezoned to "Urban Redevelopment (UR)" under section 88-260 of the Zoning and Development Code. This removes the existing zoning for the lots and substitutes the design of the proposed project as the new development parameters for the project area. This is a significant change to the land use restrictions on the property and can only be done if specific conditions are met because otherwise it can be considered unlawful.
Section 88-260-03 requires,
"The use and development standards established for the subject UR district must be in general conformance with the approved area plan and be compatible with desirable land use and development patterns in the surrounding area (88-260-03, emphasis added)."
The relevant area plan for these parcels is the Midtown/Plaza Area Plan, but this area plan explicitly explicitly invokes and defers (p. 84) to the recommendations of the Troost-Emmanuel Cleaver II Redevelopment and Implementation Plan. It states that the recommendations of this redevelopment plan "supersede" the recommendations of the Midtown/Plaza Area Plan itself.
It is clear that the proposed KC Outlook project is not in general conformance with the Troost-Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard Redevelopment & Implementation Plan and therefore does not qualify for redevelopment to UR under the Zoning and Development Code.
Putting a development like this in a place where it clearly does not belong is a bad idea. Supporting irresponsible development like this with public money is an even worse idea.
This seems like something anyone would agree with.
We ask the City Council to abide by the plans and policies that it has adopted to guide redevelopment of this area and that the neighbors expect them to follow. This requires the Council to say no to the KC Outlook project as it is currently proposed.