OP's Prairiefire: Midwest's swanky tourist attraction

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - On Monday, the Midwest's newest, swanky tourist attraction opens in Overland Park.

I got a chance to give you a sneak peek of the inside of the most impressive part of the new $160 million Prairiefire development at 135th and Lamar.

The anchor of the retail, restaurant and residential development is the Museum at Prairiefire.

The natural history and science museum has ties to the established American Museum of Natural History in New York City, so we here in the Midwest are guaranteed two of its exclusive exhibits.

"These are exhibits that you would normally have to travel to a major metropolitan city, like Paris, to see," Executive Director Uli Sailer-Das said.

|GALLERY: BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF MUSEUM AT PRAIRIEFIRE|

You approach the exterior of the Museum at Prairiefire and it immediately lights a fire of excitement. The multi-colored glass panels that adorn the outside is incredible. The orange and red shimmer outside resembles a prairie fire and inside and it turns to a cool, warm blue like water.

I was thoroughly impressed, especially since it was just two years ago, I was talking to the developer, Fred Merrill, on top of a hill of dirt. I've seen developments much older than this one in the metro sit as unturned earth for more than a decade but Merrill worked and waited through tough times and promised to bring something unique.

You want this place to succeed not only because it's such an exclusive gem but it's also being paid for by tax dollars. The state of Kansas issued $61 million in STAR and CID bonds to Prairiefire because it believed it would attract tourists. Those public bonds are always controversial but Prairiefire hopes for 200,000 to 400,000 visitors in its opening year alone.

Fingers crossed it succeeds and helps the rest of our metro area catch on fire even more among tourists.

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