Skip to content

President's Message

May 2022

From the Business Perspective Newsletter

Things are good in OP – but not everyone is on the same page

Last month our Economic Development Council investors had an update from Jack Messer, Director of Planning and Development Services at the City of Overland Park.

As expected, Jack was like Johnny Appleseed sowing seeds about the Comprehensive Plan months in advance so we’re ready when the process begins. It’s not just his job, but his passion. When you hear why, I think you’ll join him:

First: Things are good in Overland Park. Recalling the uncertainty of 2020, it’s no surprise our numbers for that year development-wise were down. Not horrible, but down. But here’s the good news.
• 2021 Single family construction was the highest since 2004 with 584 units, a 40% increase over 2020
• There were 561 new single-family lots approved – over 7 times more than in 2020
• New construction was valued at almost $600 million – our sixth highest year of new construction valuation
• Five-year population growth is steady and increasing
• Incomes are increasing, with the median income now $87,600 and 44% of our households are over $100,000
• Poverty rate is the lowest since 2014 at 4.3%
• The average appraised value of a single-family house is $373,600, a 23% increase since 2017
• Employment has steadily increased with 107,600 of our population over age 16 employed – an 8% increase since 2016.

On the flip side: we have division in our community. While many of you are highly engaged in community affairs, most people go about their daily lives without much thought about what goes into making their city, county or state work. But the increased polarization at the state and national level has filtered division to our local level. Generational and demographic changes that strengthen and broaden our community’s diversity and perspectives can also bring conflicting points of view about where we live, socialize, work, recreate, and learn.

Consider the dichotomies of the following heard during recent planning actions at the City:
• We don’t have enough places to live vs. We have too many apartments
• Who will live in these apartments vs. Our current 96% apartment occupancy rate
• We need to attract workers vs. Young professionals can’t afford to live here
• Why don’t we provide for bikes vs. Why are you converting this street to add a bike lane

The Comprehensive Plan won’t resolve our differences. It provides a framework for discussion so we can unify around a vision that will shape the policies, programs and projects to carry Overland Park forward for the next 20-30 years.

Like many of you, I am not an Overland Park native. I chose this place. I was attracted to Overland Park’s vision and commitment to being the best community for families and businesses, and to making the changes necessary to maintain our success.

The comprehensive planning process begins this summer. We welcome your input and count on you to join us in keeping Overland Park moving forward.

For more information about this process, click here.

Tracey Osborne Oltjen

written by

Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM

President & CEO