Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

No immediate plans for Performance Glass building

October 5, 2006

As the city of De Soto proceeds with the planning process to revitalize downtown, a big part of downtown's future and one of the few available storefronts in the district remains empty.

The former home of Performance Glass, at the southeast corner of 83rd and Wea streets, remains empty two years after it was purchased by Olathe businessman Greg Van Etten. Van Etten bought the 11,752-square-foot building from Pat and Bob Atchison. The Atchisons, who relocated their Performance Glass commercial glass business to Lexington Avenue south of Kansas Highway 10, used the front part of the building for offices, the basement for storage and converted the back of the top floor to a large loft apartment.

Van Etten, who owns Labor Pros in Olathe, said he used the basement of the building to store business documents but has no plans to use the remaining space on a permanent basis. He specifically ruled out leasing the upstairs front.

"Probably not because I use the back for gatherings," he said. "I would hate to continue doing something there and have someone accidentally walk into the front if it were leased."

As for selling the building, Van Etten said he was not actively looking to move the property but would listen to the right offer.

"It's not tied to me," he said. "If somebody made the right offer -- it would have to be for a little more than I paid for it -- I would listen."

The Johnson County Appraiser's Office currently lists the building's appraised value at $421,000.

There has been interest in the building and believes there will be more, Van Etten said. Should Olathe Medical Center start developing its property on 91st Street, the building could become attractive to medical professionals looking for space, he said.

Van Etten said he was aware of De Soto's interest in downtown revitalization and his building's potential role in that effort. As a resident of the area, he was open to working with the city, he said.

The revitalization effort started last year when the city and the De Soto Economic Development Council jointly hired Omaha-based planner Marty Shukert to develop a redevelopment blueprint. Shukert has since visited De Soto on a number of occasions and sketched out two proposals to revitalize the "peninsula" east of Ottawa Street between the Kansas River and Kill Creek.

Sara Ritter, executive director of De Soto Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, said Shukert would return to De Soto Oct. 17 for an evening of meetings. The night will start at 5 p.m. when the consultant will present possible plans to a joint gathering of city council members, planning commissioners and board members of the De Soto parks board, economic development council and USD 232.

When that meeting concludes at 6:30 p.m., Shukert will present the plans at a public forum, Ritter said.

"I would encourage everyone to come," she said. "This is the chance to comment before we move ahead with a plan."

The meeting will wrap up with Shukert meeting with the city commission. Ritter said it was hoped that final meeting would produce a plan for downtown's revitalization. Shukert will then work up the plan and return in November to present it to the council.

"Of course, all of that is subject to public comment," she said. "It's highly possible it will be tweaked again before November."

Public comment has already affected the process, Ritter said. Although she hasn't seen Shukert's latest options, an unpopular proposal to redevelop Miller Park appears to have been dropped, Ritter said.

She does, however, expect Shukert to present a modified version of the plan, which would move the Miller Park ball fields across 83rd Street to the field east of Morse's Market with "very light" retail on the edge of the present park, Ritter said.

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