Eudora City Commission working with company to redevelop old school site
The city of Eudora has started working with a local firm to redevelop the old Nottingham school property on the city’s Kansas Highway 10 gateway.
On June 11, the Eudora City Commission approved a predevelopment agreement for the Nottingham property with Alcove Development, of Lawrence. Eudora City Manager Barack Matite said the agreement committed the city to working exclusively with Alcove for the next six months to redevelop the 15-acre site on Church Street just north of K-10.
The predevelopment agreement is a step toward a much more detailed and binding development agreement, which will provide details of the property’s development and put in writing the incentives the city will offer and the improvements required of the developer, Matite said.
Alcove is the second developer the city has worked with to redevelop the Nottingham property since the Eudora City Commission approved in 2015 the $850,000 purchase of the old elementary school and adjacent former district football field from the Eudora school district with the goal of controlling development on the site. In April 2016, the city entered into a predevelopment agreement with CBC Real Estate Group of Kansas City, Mo. That agreement was extended in March 2017, but CBC never secured a commitment for an anchor store needed to make its redevelopment plan work.
Dustin Baker, manager of Alcove Development LLC, said that Alcove was early in the processes of assessing its potential to develop the site and didn’t have a schedule of when the company could present project plans to the Eudora City Commission. He did say Alcove was looking at a more flexible phased development plan that didn’t depend on an anchor store to start the development at the property.
“I think that is likely the route we are going to have to go,” he said.
Commercial interest in the site exists, Baker said, and it’s Alcove’s task now to find out if that interest will materialize and pay for the infrastructure needed to develop the property.
“That’s going to be the first hurdle,” he said. “Once we know what we have and need, we can meet with the city and start working on a plan. We want to put together a plan that makes sense for us, for the city and the residents of Eudora.”
Substantial public infrastructure improvements would be associated with Nottingham’s redevelopment, Matite said. Improvement on the property’s Church Street frontages would include the installation of curbs and guttering, turn lanes onto the property and — depending on the results of a traffic study — the placement of a traffic light. Onsite storm water retention will also be necessary with the property’s development.
The first change Eudora residents would likely see at the property is the razing of the old Nottingham school. Baker and Matite said Alcove was considering a city request to demolish the school.
“Our preference, which we expressed to them, is they tear that down as soon as possible,” Matite said. “They seemed to be open to that, but we’ll work with them.”
Eudora Mayor Tim Reazin said he was optimistic about Alcove’s proposed phased development of the Nottingham property. The “clean slate” from the demolition of the old school and first new development should help recruit other businesses and an anchor, he said.
“It’s a phased approach, but there’s a plan to redevelop the entire site,” he said. “They won’t just build the first phase and walk away from any further development. It seems like the best approach without the ability to attract an anchor store immediately.”
Reazin said he viewed as a plus the participation of a local firm that has already invested in the community. Alcove Development plans to break ground this fall on an $11 million senior care facility on a five-acre site northwest of the Church Street and North 1200 Road intersection. Last year, one of Alcove’s partners, Roger Johnson, bought the remaining undeveloped 27 lots in the Shadow Ridge subdivision and installed the needed infrastructure to build homes on the lots.
Baker said Alcove wanted a project that would complement its other development in Eudora.
“We don’t want to put our name on anything that isn’t a good fit for the community and isn’t successful,” he said. “We’ll try to see in short order if we can make a go of the project. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”
The city did make progress on the property’s redevelopment during the time it was working with CBC. In January 2017, the Eudora City Commission approved creation of a tax increment financing district for the property. The Eudora school district and Douglas County have approved participation in a Nottingham TIF (tax increment financing) district. The TIF district would allow the added property, sales and franchise taxes collected from the site’s redevelopment to be used to finance needed infrastructure improvements at the site. TIFs cannot be used to finance privately owned buildings.