If you have visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens recently, you most likely noticed that some major changes are underway.
Overland Park took their Facebook page early last week to provide residents with a bird’s eye view of the construction progress at the new “LongHouse” Visitor Center at the arboretum.
However, if you missed it, here is a look into why there is construction and temporary fencing near the entrance to the arboretum, on 179th Street just off of U.S. Highway 69.
What is being built?
- Set to be a 21,000-square-foot building, the new visitor center will feature a range of amenities, including exhibits with hands-on learning components, a cafe, a gift shop, office and administration space and rental spaces that could be used for weddings, corporate meetings and community events.
- Additionally, outdoor plans for the spaces involve constructing new entry gardens, a reflecting pool, a great lawn and additional parking.
Where is it being built?
- Being constructed in the center of the arboretum, the area where the new facility will be located was open green space primarily used for a nearby service road.
- Visitor access to the property will be expanded with the addition of the building.
What will happen to the current visitor center?
- The arboretum’s existing facility will be remodeled to focus on environmental education opportunities for the community.
What is the cost of the project?
- When the Overland Park City Council approved preliminary plans for the center at the beginning of 2020, the project came with a proposed cost of $17 million.
- That projected price tag then increased to $19.3 million in 2021 due to the spike in prices of construction materials.
- Funding for the visitors center came from the Arts & Recreation of Overland Park, who donated $11 million, and the city’s Capital Improvements Program. Private donations have been made as well.
When will the center be completed?
- Although the project was initially projected to be completed by the end of this year, Overland Park’s website now says it will be finished and opened sometime in the middle of 2023.
Why is it named LongHouse?
- According to the city’s website, the visitor center will be known as LongHouse to honor Janet Long, a private contributor to the project.
- The name is also reminiscent of longhouses of Native Americans and Scandinavian cultures, which used these buildings as community gathering spaces.