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City Center developers announce new $50M mixed-use project

Rob Roberts, Reporter
Kansas City Business Journal 
 
Copaken Brooks and EPC Real Estate Group will co-develop a new $50 million retail, office and multifamily project in Lenexa City Center, the 200-acre mixed-use neighborhood incorporating all four corners of the intersection of 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard.

Lenexa, which assembled the acreage for Lenexa City Center, granted development rights for the 69-acre southwest quadrant 10 years ago to Copaken Brooks, the Kansas City-based commercial real estate firm that developed Oak Park Mall and some of Downtown’s tallest skyscrapers.
 
“We were granted the (City Center) rights in 2007, just in time for the recession,” Keith Copaken, a principal with the firm, said Thursday during a presentation to the commercial division of the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors.

Development southwest of 87th and Renner began slowly, with the 112,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness at 16851 W. 90th St. becoming the first building to come out of the ground in 2010. But the quadrant now is booming with private and public development, including the $75 million structure that soon will house Lenexa’s new City Hall and other public uses.

Now, the $50 million mixed-use project, dubbed The District at City Center, will join the mix with 176 apartments, 30,000 square feet of restaurants and boutique retail space, 45,000 square feet of office space, and structured parking.

The high-density, vertical mixed-use structure will include 350,000 square feet of space (if you count the garage space) on just 4 acres, Copaken said.

Work on the project, which will be built in a single phase, will start in the third quarter, with delivery scheduled for the second quarter of 2019. Klover Architects is designing the project, said Copaken, whose firm is nearing the selection of a general contractor.

The apartments in the project, to be called The District Flats, will be developed by EPC, which is known for its high-density, luxury projects throughout the area. One of them, the 200-unit Domain at City Center, lies directly across Penrose Lane from the District at City Center site.

On the other side of the new development site, right at the corner of 87th and Renner, lies another, 4.5-acre site, where Copaken Brooks plans to develop “Restaurant Row,” a line of signature, sit-down restaurants. The timetable and development cost for that project have not been finalized, but demand for it is well established.

Erin Johnston, a vice president of retail leasing with Copaken Brooks, said market research had determined that $32 million in annual food and beverage spending is “leaking” from the area within a three-mile radius of Lenexa City Center because of the current shortage of restaurants. She said the research showed that the area could support 27 to 42 more restaurants — demand that Copaken Brooks plans to address through The District at City Center and the more high-end eateries within Restaurant Row.

Already, Copaken Brooks has signed leases with restaurants such as the Saints Pub + Patio, where Thursday’s presentation took place. It is in Renner 89, a 20,000-square-foot, two-story mixed-use building at 89th Street and Renner Boulevard.

Besides Renner 89, The Domain and Life Time Fitness, the only other existing use in the southwest quandrant is the 240,000-square-foot Lexmark headquarters that opened in 2014.

But plenty more is under construction or in the pipeline.

Copaken Brooks gave up the development rights for part of its acreage along 87th Street Parkway to allow the city to develop the new $75 million Lenexa Civic Center, which is scheduled to open July 31. Besides the new City Hall, the complex will include an indoor public market, Park University’s 41st campus, a rec center with indoor aquatic and fitness facilities, and a 500-space parking garage.

Just south of the new Civic Center, the Johnson County Library plans to develop a new $21.5 million, 40,000-square foot branch that will replace its Lackman branch in 2019.

In addition, the new $20 million Shawnee Mission School District Aquatic Competition Center, a 1,500-seat natatorium, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018 on land donated by Lenexa at 87th and Penrose Lane.

Copaken said the public uses are driving strong demand for the other mixed uses southwest of 87th and Renner, where the current 630,000 square feet of development is expected to top out at 2 million square feet.

That quadrant is currently known simply as City Center. But it and the $50 million project currently designated as The District at City Center may both get new names soon, Copaken said.

He said that to avoid the confusion caused by the City Center name, that entire quadrant soon may be rebranded as The District at City Center.

The other three quadrants are City Center East, City Center North and City Center Northeast.
 
This article first appeared at KC Business Journal online. 

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Becca Andersen
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