- The Overland Park (Kansas) City Council has shot down a developer's rezoning request, further delaying advancement on a $1.8 billion mixed-use project, according to the Kansas City Business Journal. The city's planning commission had already approved the project.
- Developer Chris Curtin has been trying to win approval for the necessary zoning changes since first submitting his plans for the Brookridge development back in 2015. The council's reason for refusing to authorize the necessary rezoning at the most recent meeting has to do with how Curtin plans to phase in traffic improvements.
- Curtin has until June 18 to submit a revised plan for the project, which will include 98,000 square feet of retail across four new buildings, a 45,000-square-foot boutique grocery store and a two-story parking garage.
Many mixed-use projects are proposed for areas that have not seen a lot of major recent development, so rezoning is usually necessary. While some city councils, or whatever public entity is in charge of authorizing these changes, are happy to do so – perhaps anticipating the economic payoff for the area once construction begins – others resist change, particularly if it means the project will cause stress on local services, create traffic congestion or otherwise inconvenience current residents and businesses.
In Los Angeles last year, some local activists spearheaded a ballot measure initiative that would have imposed a two-year moratorium on zoning changes necessary to accommodate the massive high-density, mixed-use projects that are being planned there. The effort was unsuccessful, but local groups have continued their mission, targeting one project at a time.
Even developers in skyscraper-rich New York City have encountered difficulties when trying to push their projects through local planning departments, and a new zoning regulation in an upscale, residential area of Manhattan threatened to kill at least one development recently. Gamma Real Estate filed for an exemption from the regulation so that it could continue construction on its tower project, 58 Sutton, to the planned height of 799 feet instead of having to keep 50% of the total area at below 150 feet, but work stopped there late last year pending a final decision as to whether the project meets the exemption requirements.
In Brooklyn, Alloy Development's plans to build a mixed-use project, anchored by a 74-story tower, have been on the receiving end of criticism from local residents who say the design and its high-density components are out of character for the neighborhood, which is home to Victorian-style houses and low-rise brownstones. That project is still making its way through the planning process.