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About the Automated Guideway Transport industry - July, 2003  
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New urbanism' project envisioned in Shawnee

 By: Jessica Marshall, Sun Staff Writer July 03, 2003

 Shawnee City Council members will meet Tuesday to discuss how involved the city should become in a "new urbanism" development project.

Options on the site - bordered by I-435 and Mauer Road, Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive - were acquired about 20 years ago for a regional mall that was never developed.

 Now, city officials will consider a new project that mixes residential and commercial uses in a "walkable" neighborhood.

 Shawnee City Councilman John Segale compares the concept to "an outdoor mall with streets and sidewalks running through it." He added that people who choose to live in the development would have the opportunity to "live in a place where they can shop, eat and even work."

 "These neighborhoods work well located near highway interchanges," he said. "We only have two, and the area near I-435 is available. We have a developer willing to do this, who will need our assistance, as far as assembling the grounds, to make this happen."

 Many cities in Johnson County have expressed interest in or started planning this type of project but only on paper. Segale said Shawnee would like to "get serious" about the project.

 "We're always looking to do something unique and different in Shawnee to set us apart," he said. "We want to get there before everyone else. I think most people would support Shawnee in this kind of development."

 Project highlights the City Council will discuss Tuesday include:

* Neighborhood development to put residents close to work and retail services.

* Concentrated mixed-use neighborhood commercial center more easily    served by future transit services.

* Comprehensive network of streets and blocks allowing different uses to be developed in a compatible manner.

* An alternative connection to existing retail uses.

* Public park and open space system that protects natural creek system and master storm water management system.

"The Coming Demand," a study produced by the Congress for the New Urbanism, shows that the new nationwide trend puts malls, strip malls and big boxes at risk. It reports that the trend is being driven by aging baby boomers as well as young adults looking for varied, affordable housing and shorter commutes.

The idea behind new urbanism is similar to the design implemented years ago by the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

"We wouldn't be able to do anything that extensive in Shawnee," Segale said. "It would sort of take after that, except that we'll have more residential options. It's also like Brookside. ... People go to the Plaza without buying anything, just because they like it there. Why wouldn't we want that?"

Segale, Tracy Thomas and other council members have visited similar neighborhoods in cities from Denver to Charlotte, N.C.

"We've gone to see what they look and feel like, so we have some first-hand experience, not just abstract, of what it is we'd like to do," Segale said.

With a new urbanism project, property values in the area would increase and it would help diversify Shawnee's tax base, he said.

"If this doesn't go, what are our options? We've already got the big boxes - Wal-Mart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot - within a mile of this site," Segale said. "It would probably become a single-family development, and that's a waste of land use for what it could be. From the land owner perspective and from the city's perspective, this is the way to go."

Segale added that he thinks this is just one example of how the city is taking a more aggressive approach to development.

"We're also trying to do something similar with our downtown redevelopment and tax incentive programs," he said. "They'll be competing, but in a good way, to bring in more people and more business."