Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Group Plans Major, Innovative Kansas City Development
Kansas City KS Star 18Feb00 B4
By Jeffrey Spivak: Kansas City Star
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI -- An LDS Church affiliated group filed a
master plan with Kansas City to create the largest housing
development proposed in the City in more than 50 years. The plan is
also notable because it tries to replicate old-style neighborhoods -
including such features as back alleys between houses, town squares,
and apartments on top of shops. The development is being created just
west of Liberty, Missouri in an area rich with Mormon history.
The plan covers a 2.5 square mile area in Northland, located from
Northeast 76th street to Northeast 96th street between Interstates
435 and 35. The area's 1,700 acres, known as Shoal Creek Valley, are
divided in the plan into 10 districts, including a business park, a
district with townhouses geared to retirees and a more typical
suburban-style development surrounding a golf course. But about one
quarter of the development is devoted to old-style neighborhoods. If
built as planned in the next 20 to 30 years, the area could be home
to 15,000 residents.
The project is the first large-scale attempt at "new urbanism" or
neotraditional development, which attempts to mimic close-knit
village settings that promote walking as much as driving. These
developments are aimed at Americans who are dissatisfied with the
lack of a sense of community in many suburbs.
But the group, Shoal Creek Valley Development Co., is only willing to
experiment with this concept as far as the market will allow. The
plan allows developers to switch to more traditional subdivisions if
homes in the neotraditional development won't sell. "We don't know
yet whether the market is going to say this is a good thing," said
Mark Staples, manager of Shoal Creek Valley Development Co. "We
believe the demand is deep. If people want alleys and detached
garages, this is one of the few places to go. If they don't want it,
then the plan is flexible enough to do what's typically been done."
The group is purchasing the land from another LDS Church affiliate.,
which is buying the land from a Mormon Church-owned affiliate. The
area is one of the largest blocks of land under one owner in the
region, and it has been a thorn in city planner's sides for many
years. As the city expanded around and past the land, city planners
repeatedly approached the Church to try and get its real estate
officials to act. At one point a delegation of city leaders even
visited Utah to try and get action. Eventually, the City gave up
waiting on the Church and developed its own master plan for the area.
The Shoal Creek Valley plan reflects the plan the city adopted.
City planners are ecstatic with the plan, "We wanted this to develop
for a long time," said Vicki Noteis, the city's planning director.
"It's a great example of the FOCUS plan. This shows there is another
way to develop. I don't think you can overstate the significance of
The project is the largest residential-commercial project since the
1920s and is one of the largest attempts at neotraditionalism in a
major U.S. City. According to the San Francisco-based Congress for
the New Urbanism, which tracks neotraditional developments, there are
14 such developments over 1,700 acres planned or under construction.
Only two others are within the limits of a big city. "I think it is
an excellent project, one that really combines the new technology of
housing but goes back to the more traditional Brooksidelike model,"
Mayor Kay Barnes said. "I think it is going to be a tremendous