More diverse housing and changes in height allowances were some of the ideas being contemplated to reimagine a busy stretch of 135th Street in Leawood between State Line Road and Nall Avenue.
At a Monday evening work session, the Leawood City Council considered potential changes to the city’s 135th Street Community Plan, which dates to 2014.
The plan initially called for 143 acres of undeveloped land along that stretch of 135th to turn into a variety of retail and office space, with small residential sections mixed in.
However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some in the city worry that the plan is out of date, with particular concerns that there is no longer as much need for large retail and office spaces with more people working from home.
More affordable housing
In order to accommodate the needs of current residents, the council noted their wish to see a greater variety of housing along 135th that is traditionally not found in other portions of Leawood.
“I just don’t want a bunch of million dollar homes,” Councilmember Debra Filla said on Monday.
Filla was not alone either. Many others on the council acknowledged Leawood lacked diversity in both size and pricing for housing, saying they would like to see both smaller homes with cheaper price tags along 135th.
“We’ve got a lot of folks who are 60-plus who would like to stay in Leawood, and there’s nowhere to go,” Councilmember Lisa Harrison said. “What we hear from our neighbors all the time is, ‘I’d love to downsize and stay in Leawood, but I have to spend more to have less.'”
To remedy this issue, Mayor Peggy Dunn suggested putting some type of wording into a reimagined 135th Street plan that would discourage developers from trying to bring large million-dollar homes to the area.
Lowering height maximums
In addition to diversifying the housing options as part of the new plan for 135th, the council also discussed how it would be nice to potentially change height allowances in the area.
Currently, that area allows for buildings that sit at a maximum height of eight stories, or 90 feet.
“When I envision eight-storey buildings, it makes me break out into a cold sweat,” Councilmember Mary Larson said. “And from residents comments, they don’t wish to see those either.”
She recommended restricting the area to only allow for four-story buildings, with some exceptions depending on grading, in order to keep a less high-rise look along 135th.
“I think any concerns of density for the area would also take care of itself if we put those heights limitations in place,” Councilmember Mary Larson said.
What happens next
Now that city staff have heard the council’s recommendations for the 135th Community Plan, they will work to incorporate the changes into a new iteration of the plan within the following months.
Once a new plan for the area has been drafted, staff will present it to the council once more at another work session.
If the council is happy with the changes, the revised plan will go to the planning commission for approval before it is brought before the council at one of their regular meetings.