NewsLocal News


An inside look at Bluhawk and why analysts say it has keys to success

bluhawk arena.png
Posted at 7:09 AM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 08:09:57-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Real estate's golden rule of location, location, location, is turning into entertainment, entertainment, entertainment for retail establishments, according to analysts at Kansas City, Missouri-based Newmark Grubb Zimmer.

Developers have caught on. Instead of having a Dillard's or Target anchor Bluhawk in southern Overland Park, Kansas, Price Brothers is building a multi-sports complex and arena to draw shoppers to its development.

"It brings your family here, you stay for a three-day weekend for a sports tournament," explained Bart Lowen, the vice president of development at Price Brothers. "You stay in one of three hotels, you park your car on a Thursday or Friday and you don't see your car again until Sunday and you enjoy the experience."

Justin Beal, who helps research and publish the retail report every quarter for Newmark Grubb Zimmer, said trends show the arena will attract people from all over the region to the shops and restaurants at Bluhawk.

"You need those drivers from the entertainment, the food, and so forth to get people out of their house and come visit and actually shop and enjoy themselves there," Beal pointed out.

Beal said Bluhawk is far from the only development using this strategy. Even existing shopping districts like the Country Club Plaza are adjusting. It will add Punch Bowl Social, a gaming and food concept to the old Tomfooleries space. Plus, Chicken N Pickle is opening a second location in Prairiefire; bringing the food and pickleball favorite from North Kansas City to Overland Park.

Location is still important. Price Brothers has had its eyes on southern Overland Park for years.

Lowen said the city is growing south along Highway 69, so there is a built-in population base to support a development like Bluhawk.

The company purchased 100 acres directly south of Bluhawk, but Lowen won't say exactly what's in store for that land yet.

For now, the team is focused on the 300 acres from 159th to 169th streets and from Antioch Road to Highway 69.

One shopping center anchored by a Cosentino's grocery store is up and running. Advent Health operates an emergency department on site and is building an 85-bed hospital. Apartments and single-family homes are occupied. An early learning center is also open.

In the spring of 2020, construction will begin on the core retail portion and the arena/sports complex. The retail side of things should open in Summer 2021, with the arena opening in fall 2021.

To pay for the arena, the state of Kansas agreed to grant roughly $66 million in STAR bonds. In exchange for the public funding, Bluhawk guaranteed the city it will operate the arena and sports complex for a minimum of ten years no matter what.

"It is there for the community, there for the kids to play in, there for the community to see a concert or a hockey game, those kind of things," Lowen explained. "That's where the dollars are going. They're not going into the private buildings here. They're going right into that facility that really is filling a need that exists right here in Overland Park."

Lowen said Bluhawk is paying property taxes, so the development is already generating revenue for the city.

Beal said incentives like STAR bonds are essential to luring projects to a city, especially in the Kansas City area, where developers could easily go from one city to another shopping for the best deal.