Battle brewing over proposed Prairie Village Senior Center

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - A battle is brewing in Prairie Village over a proposed senior center.

300 homeowners in Prairie Village are opposed to plans for the Mission Chateau Senior Living Center, which would be built on the vacant Mission Valley Middle School site along Mission Road.

The homeowners have placed big red signs reading "No Massive Development" in their yards to show their dissatisfaction.

Homeowner Brian Doerr says he's not surprised by the large number of residents standing in opposition to this project.

"I'm not surprised at number of my neighbors who joined in because it's just that inappropriate, frankly. It's just too big," he said.

When the Shawnee Mission School District closed Mission Valley Middle School in 2011, nearby homeowners knew change was coming.

Yet, they say they never expected a plan of this magnitude to be proposed to take shape right in their back yards.

The Mission Chateau Senior Living Facility, proposed by the Tutera Development Company, would be around 386,000 square feet and in its final stage, could house around 450 seniors.

Many residents worry that's simply too big. 

"A business of this magnitude does not belong in an established residential area," explained Alice Carmen, whose home backs up to the school's property. "This is my home. This is where I live, this is where I plant my garden, where our children play and where my family comes home to relax and sleep. We won't give this up easily. This is unfair to take someone who has lived here for so long and tell them to do something that will decrease their property value and forever change their environment."

John Petersen represents the Tutera Group, who is proposing the plan.

"I know deep in people's hearts they wanted that to remain a public school. That in it of itself elicits emotion and a sense of loss and concern and sometimes it's hard to get past that point," he said. "We just hope that people will step back. We're keeping an open mind and we hope the residents can keep an open mind. If there are tweaks to the project to make it better that's what this review process is all about."

The Tutera Development Group says they've already scaled back the project to make it smaller, move particular buildings around and meet the city's design criteria. Yet, they remain open to additional changes.

Petersen adds that he's become accustomed to pushback on projects that change the nature of a particular property, yet he believes some residents could be surprised by the project's outcome.

"In my experience over several decades of doing development, many, many times what's ultimately built is not as bad as what the perception was," he said.

Tuesday night the Prairie Village Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. at the Village Presbyterian Church. The public is invited to comment at the meeting. More than 100 people are expected to attend.


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