In a split decision, the Leawood City Council on Monday night voted to approve final plans for a new steakhouse in Leawood’s Town Center Plaza, next door to an existing Hereford House.
While the entity behind the new restaurant has remained unnamed in official discussions, the Kansas City Star has reported the restaurant will be run by Houston-based Perry’s.
The new steakhouse is set to be built just south of 117th Street and east of Nall Avenue on a site that is currently a parking lot on the north side of the shopping center.
One hundred and three parking spaces will be replaced by the 12,000-square-foot restaurant.
It is the removal of these parking spaces, in addition to traffic concerns, that have led to the project going back-and-forth between the Leawood Planning Commission and city council over the last eight months.
Hereford House worries
Since August, removal of the parking spaces has prompted concerns from Hereford House, a Kansas City-based steakhouse with a Town Center franchise that stands on a neighboring lot on 117th Street.
Hereford House owner Mary Holland argued the removal of the spots would harm her restaurant by taking away spaces the establishment has used in the past.
However, after months of negotiations between Hereford House and the new steakhouse, a representative of Hereford House came to February’s planning commission meeting to say the two have solved their issues by entering into a private agreement.
Despite working out the parking issue, however, worries about the new establishment did not die down at the council’s Monday night meeting as traffic remained a hot topic.
Councilmember Jim Rawlings raised a concern about Hereford House patrons crossing 117th, which will be the dividing line between the two restaurant’s parking lots, in order to access overflow parking.
“That street there is awfully busy,” Rawlings said. “And people, no surprise, don’t pay attention to speed limits within developments.”
He recommended the developer incorporate a crosswalk between the two parking lots in order to encourage drivers to slow down when passing through 117th Street.
But Curt Peterson with Washington Prime Group, owner and operator of Town Center Plaza, said the incorporation of a crosswalk is easier said than done.
He said in order to incorporate the crosswalk “it would be tough because we’d have to blow through the islands, lose landscaping and would probably have to make it ADA accessible.”
As a compromise, Councilmember Lisa Harrison recommended adding a stipulation that required the developer to look into adding a speed table on 117th Street between the two restaurants.
She said the speed table would be more cost effective than adding a crosswalk but would still effectively slow down traffic between the steakhouses.
The council ultimately passed the final plan for the steakhouse in a 5-3 vote, along with the new speed table stipulation.
Those in favor said the new steakhouse would bring new energy to what is seen as the duller side of the center.
“There is a definite difference on the north side versus the south side of Town Center Plaza,” Mayor Peggy Dunn said. “[The new restaurant] would definitely add more activity, more people, a little more excitement to that side of the center.”
Yet, some on the council disagreed, saying they believed it to be a mistake to put another restaurant — especially another steakhouse — in that area.
“I believe in my heart that if Hereford House was owned by Town Center Plaza… we wouldn’t be having this conversation because this be a competing business,” Harrison said.
Councilmembers Chuck Sipple, Debra Filla, Mary Larson, Rawlings and Mayor Dunn voted in favor of the new restaurant.
Councilmembers Julie Cain, James Azeltine and Harrison voted against it.