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Examiner
  • Menards clears hurdle

  • Menards is one step closer in coming to Independence.

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  • Menards is one step closer in coming to Independence.
    To make way for the home improvement store, the Planning Commission Tuesday night approved the rezoning of 53 acres near Interstate 70 and Little Blue Parkway from residential agricultural and office-residential to business park – planned unit development. Commission members also approved a preliminary development plan.
    The case now goes before the City Council for final consideration and approval.
    “I’m here (Tuesday night) to tell you that Independence is getting a Menards store,” said Tyler Edwards, a real estate representative with the Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards. “We have been looking at the Kansas City market for a year-and-a-half now.”
    The closest existing Menards are in St. Joseph and Sedalia, on the Missouri side, and Topeka, Kan. Back in February 2011, The Falls at Crackerneck Creek developer Byron Constance had told city officials and The Examiner that Menards had issued a letter of intent to purchase more than 15 acres in the South Village component of the Bass Pro Shops-anchored development.
    But that plan never came to fruition – and Planning Commission member Karen DeLuccie Tuesday night asked why the store wasn’t locating in that development.
    “I’m dying to know, because I heard you were looking at near Bass Pro,” DeLuccie said, “so I want to know.”
    The decision, Edwards replied, “was an internal business decision.”
    Edwards also said the proposed store site, now undeveloped property in agricultural use, is a unique location because it borders both office and commercial districts, as well as bordering a major interstate and a major 4-lane road through Independence.
    “The business park overlay allows commercial uses to accompany Menards, as well as allowing office buildings to be part of the development,” Edwards wrote in an Oct. 9 letter to city staff. “This plan achieves the mixture of potential uses that the city is looking for.”
    Construction is set to start next spring, with Menards opening its doors in spring 2014, bringing about 250 part- and full-time jobs to Independence.
    Menard Center, as the development is being called, will include four commercial lots, although that number might increase at the project develops. The Planning Commission and the City Council must review and approve preliminary development plans for each lot.
    According to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance, all uses under the general commercial and business park zoning districts are allowed in Menard Center, except for pawn shops; short-term loan service; body art services; recycling services; lumberyards, hardware stores and home improvement stores (except for the Menards lot); and used vehicle sales, unless in conjunction with on-site new vehicle sales.
    Menards also commissioned and submitted a traffic study report to the city. That study recommends four westbound traffic lanes at the Jackson Drive and Little Blue Parkway intersection, as well as a northbound right-turn lane on Little Blue Parkway at the development entrance.
    Page 2 of 2 - City staff said the project’s private street extension will need traffic signal and pavement marking improvements at the Little Blue Parkway and Jackson Drive intersection.
    “I think this is the first traffic study I’ve ever smiled at,” DeLuccie said. “I’m very excited that you’re coming to Independence.”
    Other commission members also lauded the application and the work Menards put into its preparations for a site in Independence.
    “I’ve dealt with Menards on several developments, and they’ve been excellent. They’ve got it down to a science – they know exactly what it’s going to look like,” commission vice chairman Pat Campbell said. “They’ll be a good corporate customer in Independence. I look forward to it.”
     
     
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