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Overland Park plans to remake downtown farmers market with a $34 million renovation

A conceptual rendering of a new downtown market area entering from the east on Marty Street, with a new indoor pavilion just to the left of the entryway.
City of Overland Park
A conceptual rendering of a new downtown market area entering from the east on Marty Street, with a new indoor pavilion just to the left of the entryway.

The Overland Park City Council approved an updated plan to develop a new public market area between Overland Park Drive and Marty Street centered around an indoor pavilion. But the high price tag is a point of contention.

Overland Park is moving forward with a plan to build a new downtown farmers’ market pavilion and make significant changes to the site just off Clock Tower Plaza.

In a 6-3 vote Monday night, the Overland Park City Council approved an updated plan to develop a new public market area between Overland Park Drive and Marty Street centered around an indoor pavilion.

The total cost of the undertaking could total nearly $34 million, a price tag substantially higher than previous estimates.

That number became the sticking point for three councilmembers who voted against the plan, even as supporters on the council characterized the proposal as a significant public investment for an area of the city residents have long said needs attention.

“I think we’re all a little shocked by the price tag,” Mayor Curt Skoog said during a Committee of the Whole council discussion Monday night before the regular city council meeting.

Still, he said Overland Park has “come a long way in developing a project that meets the city’s needs for the next 30 years.”

What’s in the revised farmers’ market plan?

The new plan includes an expansion of the downtown market site to just beyond the eastern side of Marty Street, centered around a new enclosed pavilion that could be used year round for weekly markets and other events.

It also includes upgrades to the stone patio area around Clock Tower Plaza on the western side of the market area.

The plan also lays out community gathering spaces in and around the pavilion, shade structures, more access to public restrooms, access to electricity and water for vendors and improvements to the existing outdoor market, including accessibility upgrades.

An aerial view of the new market plan, with the pavilion to the right. A prospective multi-story private building to the left is not included in the plan approved Monday.
City of Overland Park
An aerial view of the new market plan, with the pavilion to the right. A prospective multi-story private building to the left is not included in the plan approved Monday.

The indoor market space will not be a cooled space and will only deliver heat for the winter months but will allow the market to operate year-round, a key component for some supporters of the project.

An additional private development aspect of the proposal that lays out a possible multi-story mixed-used building just to the north of the market pavilion is not part of the public plan approved Monday.

Still, the city as part of the current agreement will work to acquire a parcel of privately owned land at 7311 West 79th St., that is intended to be set aside for market use in the future.

The city will now negotiate agreements moving forward with Copaken Brooks, consturction firm McCownGordon, and PGAV Architects for the farmers market project.

How much will it cost?

The current cost estimate for the public development portion of the farmers’ market is $33.9 million. That number is likely to be further refined in the future, city staff said.

Originally, the city planned to spend only about $8 million on the project.

The revised cost estimate includes funding for general construction cost increases, work on Clock Tower Plaza and Overland Park Drive, the shade structures, burying utility lines, sustainability efforts and “added contingencies.”

Previous estimates did not account for this additional scope.

Currently, there is $8.1 million allotted for the farmers’ market project in the city’s Capital Improvements Program fund, plus another $4.95 million from general obligation Bonds, $2.65 million from the County Courthouse Sales Tax and $500,000 in cash.

All told, that money covers less than half of the project total cost of this revised plan.

To cover the balance of the new cost of the project, additional funds in the form of general obligation bonds could be used, the city said.

What the community ‘has been asking for’

A conceptual rendering of the inside of the new indoor market pavilion, which could be operated year round.
City of Overland Park
A conceptual rendering of the inside of the new indoor market pavilion, which could be operated year round.

Even councilmembers who supported remaking the farmers’ market acknowledged the higher cost.

Councilmember Inas Younis, who ultimately voted for the project, expressed mixed feelings about the plan.

She said she was “celebratory” for the project as a whole but struggled “with the price tag.” After hearing from city staff, Younis voted in favor of the plan.

Councilmember Holly Grummert said in Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting that the project will “leap-frog us into the future,” giving the city’s downtown a year-round gathering space “that many community members have been asking for.”

Councilmember Melissa Cheatham likened discussion of the new farmers’ market and its price tag to the sometimes-heated discussions that came with the new Kansas City airport terminal.

“I liked the [old] airport, it was doing fine… but it’s hard to argue that we aren’t better off as a community with an up-to-date facility that reflects our community’s values,” Cheatham said. “We are a community that invests in community, invests in excellence, invest in things that bring us joy.”

Three councilmembers — Jeff Cox, Scott Mosher and Sam Passer — dissented in the approval vote during both the City Council meeting and an earlier Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night, largely due to concerns over the cost.

Cox and Mosher said Overland Park residents and market vendors are happy with the market as it is.

“We’re putting all this money into something our community says is already working for us,” Mosher said during the Committee of the Whole discussion about the updated plan earlier Monday.

Cox said the project is “a solution desperately looking for a problem,” calling it a “boondoggle.”

He suggested surveying Overland Park residents about whether or not they believe the city should spend nearly $34 million on a new farmers’ market.

If the survey showed residents are supportive of that idea, he said he would support the project.

Cox and Mosher ultimately voted against all six motions presented during the council meeting, regarding the new agreement.

Passer voted against a motion approving the plan as a whole. Once that was approved he voted with six other councilmembers on several other motions pushing the project forward, including waiving the selection and bid processes for Copaken Brooks, PGAV Architects and McCownGordon and amending the 2025-29 Capital Improvements Program list to reflect the new higher cost estimate.

Councilmembers Richard Borlaza, Gregg Riess and Chris Newlin were not present for the vote.

Another conceptual rendering of the outdoor area of the market area.
City of Overland Park
Another conceptual rendering of the outdoor area of the market area.

Currently, the farmers’ market houses 242 parking spaces. Total public parking spaces will be reduced to 166 spaces with the new plan.

Public parking will not be allowed inside the new indoor market space.

Other recent development projects to downtown have added additional public parking in the area, allowing for more cars to be parked during farmers’ markets and events at the market pavilion, city documents said.

If the private portion of the market proposal eventually moves forward, the number of available public parking spaces at the market would be reduced further to 120 spaces.

Work is expected to start later this year

Between now and fall, the city, along with its project partners, will complete construction documents and work to acquire the private parcel directly north of the current pavilion.

Final design plans still need to be drawn, which Keith Copaken of Copaken Brooks said will take about five to six months.

Actual construction on the new market pavilion is expected to begin in November after the current market season ends.

The demolition of the current farmers’ market pavilion is slated to take place in December.

The 2025 market season will be moved to Matt Ross Community Center during construction of the new pavilion.

Construction is expected to take around 18 months and the city hopes to complete it in time to open the new market pavilion in time for the opening of farmers’ market season in the spring of 2026.

 
This story was originally published by the Johnson County Post.

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