Leawood City Council approves new restaurant additions without new parking at Town Center Crossing

This week, the Leawood City Council agreed with developers and the Leawood Planning Commission that Town Center Crossing does not need more parking to accommodate two new restaurants and the expansion of another. Above, the center's parking lot late on Monday afternoon. Photo by Lucie Krisman.

Leawood city leaders have agreed with developers at Town Center Crossing that incoming restaurants and expansion won’t require new parking spaces for the shopping center.

How it got here: With the arrival of two new restaurants and the expansion of another, shopping center owners Washington Prime Group concluded through a February parking study that the shopping center at 119th and Roe could accommodate the expansion with its current amount of parking spaces.

  • City staff have disagreed that parking could remain as is, arguing that city code required more spaces and the study did not necessarily reflect the center’s busiest time of the year.
  • Despite the recommendation for denial from city staff, the Leawood Planning Commission earlier this summer unanimously voted in favor of the developers’ decision not to add more parking. The Leawood City Council on Monday affirmed the commission’s decision.

What’s coming in? Incoming restaurant arrivals at the shopping center include Cafe Europa and a second location of the Rockhill Grille, with an original location in Kansas City, Missouri.

  • The restaurants will fill move into the spaces that were previously occupied by Mediterranean chain Zoe’s Kitchen and Spanish restaurant La Bodega.
  • The expansion of North Italia on the west end of the center also contributes to the increase

What city code and the parking study said: Parking at Town Center Crossing is already at a deficit.

  • Town Center Crossing currently has 613 seats and 745 parking spots, according to the parking study. The shopping center’s current number of parking spots already falls below the city ordinance’s minimum of 830 parking spots — prior to any incoming restaurants or expansion.
  • Cafe Europa and Rockhill Grille will bring in 65 seats and 176 seats, respectively, for a total of 241 seats, according to city documents. Meanwhile, North Italia is adding about 80 new seats for a new total of 262. That brings a rough grand total of 321 new seats, give or take.
  • Per Leawood’s current parking ordinance, a new parking spot is required for every two new seats at a restaurant.
  • By this standard, the Leawood Development Ordinance projected a new total requirement of 953 (at minimum) to 1,091 (at maximum) parking spots for the center.
  • The developers countered that their own parking study revealed that the center’s parking lot was never more than 80% occupied during “peak demand” times — which included 12-7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Remaining concerns: While the city council concluded that new parking spots were unnecessary, some councilmembers noted some changes they wanted to see to ensure parking does not become a larger issue at the center.

  • This included fixing potholes and re-striping the current spots to ensure people park within space lines, as well making sure employees park behind businesses instead of in spots customers could use.
  • But ultimately, the council agreed the restaurant additions and expansion are a good thing for Town Center Crossing as a whole.

What they said: “It’s a terrific problem to have,” said Councilmember Mary Larson. “It’s a good problem to have that the shopping center is doing so well that I have to walk a little ways from my parking spot. That makes me feel good that Leawood is thriving.”