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President's Message

March 2024

From the Business Perspective Newsletter

Vision Metcalf becomes a reality

It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since our community imagined and created a new strategy for our original commercial corridor.

When the Overland Park City Council adopted the Vision Metcalf Plan in 2008, its goal was to address the growing decline in retail centers along Metcalf – a key transportation spine for our community. The plan provided a framework by focusing on redevelopment nodes that would attract private investment and enhance connectivity, density, and commercial opportunities throughout the corridor.

Fast forward to today. The Metcalf corridor’s skyline is dramatically different from 15 years ago. South of 435 & Metcalf you see Equity Bank and AdventHealth, with new apartments nearby augmenting the community’s corporate hub. To the north, there’s the new Staybridge and shimmering Shamrock towers. Promontory. Avenues 80, 81 and 82 and a modern UMB Bank. The Vue. InterUrban Lofts. Strang Hall and many more.

At a recent Downtown Overland Park Partnership gathering at the Matt Ross Community Center, Mayor Curt Skoog reminded the crowd of what the area was like before Vision Metcalf. Many people outside Overland Park weren’t even aware we had a downtown. Now? He reports that he receives many enthusiastic comments about Downtown, the Farmers’ Market, and the exciting things happening in our original commercial district. For me, the renovated Thompson Park is the cherry on top of the latest additions. Even when I don’t have time to stop, I purposely drive by to see what’s happening and the many people enjoying this gorgeous community gathering space.

Have you taken a really good look around Downtown lately? Public-private partnerships between the City of Overland Park and the development community have enhanced our Downtown as a living and working environment, encouraging additional retail investment throughout the district. With the increased density of people in the area because of work during the day and coming home evenings and weekends, foot traffic for retail and service businesses has grown exponentially. (And more than 1,000 parking spaces have been added!)

Did you know there are more than 300 businesses in the area? Most are locally owned and operated, providing unique shopping and service experiences, a local focus, a fun vibe and strong sense of community. Sixteen new businesses opened in 2023 and 11 more are already slated this year!

So, wander through Downtown Overland Park on a third Friday to peruse local art; check out the spring produce on a Saturday (just one more month until the Farmers’ Market opens!); expand your palate at one of the great local restaurants, or stroll through the park. Every day is a good day to hunt for a new treasure or everyday necessity from one of our local businesses.

What a difference a few years – a plan – and great partnerships make. Congratulations to all the investors along the corridor who’ve improved our community for generations. Thank you!

Oltjen-Tracey for column

written by

Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM

President & CEO