NSPJ Architects

West Star Development nears a start on its 20-year bet on The Vista in Lenexa

By   –  Staff Writer, Kansas City Business Journal

Camille Christie remembers driving along Kansas Highway 10 with her father on the way to University of Kansas games, and Mike Christie would point to land he and his brother owned, saying they would develop it someday.

“As a little girl, I remember thinking, ‘You’re crazy,’” Camille Christie said of the acreage near what is now Prairie Star Parkway and Ridgeview Road.

But Dan and Mike Christie believed in the potential for dramatic growth in Western Johnson County. They acquired the 288 acres in 2000 after forming Olathe-based West Star Development in 1989. The land now is taking shape as The Vista, a sprawling mixed-use project.

“Just look at the area now,” said Camille Christie, now an executive at West Star. “The Lenexa City Center has completely exploded, and it’s to Lenexa’s credit for having a forward development-thinking mindset.”

A vision coming to fruition

Mike Christie made his first proposal to the Lenexa City Council in early 2014, but there was one catch: The stretch of Ridgeview between Prairie Star Parkway and Kansas Highway 10 was not built.

Once the $30 million extension was complete in 2017, West Star began its journey of adding 225 acres of development and infrastructure. Portions of its vision are preparing for construction to start this fall:

  • The $43 million,15-acre Vista Ridge at the northeast corner of K-10 and Ridgeview will offer quick-service restaurant, retail, medical and hospitality tenants.
  • The $120 million, 47-acre Vista Village at the southeast corner of Prairie Star Parkway and Ridgeview will include five retail buildings and two restaurants on the west side and a plaza amenity at the intersection. On the east side of the project, 122 townhomes (447 Vista Village on 24 acres) will be divided among 25 buildings in clusters of two, four, five and six units, plus a parking garage and a 6,600-square-foot retail building. Near the center of the site will be 260 apartments (CityScape Vista Village) and an amphitheater.

Most utility construction for both projects is complete, apart from a couple of roads, Camille Christie said. Vertical construction is expected to begin in October on the first five buildings of Vista Ridge and be completed by the first quarter.

The plaza area and the 260 apartments in Vista Village also will begin construction next month and will be completed by April. Vertical construction on the 122 townhomes, directly west of the now underway Lenexa Justice Center, will follow immediately and is anticipated to be complete by December 2023.

“By the beginning of Q2 next year, the whole area is going to start looking completely different,” Christie said. “Panasonic has really sped up our timeline, so we’re working as quickly as we possibly can on site and are trying to tack on a couple of other buildings in Vista Ridge to keep up with it.”

Panasonic plans a $4 billion, 4,000-job electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility just west down K-10 in De Soto at the former Sunflower Army Ammunition plant. Submitted documents include provisions for a similarly sized second phase.

Looking further down the Ridgeview Road

West Star also is creating plans for the rest of the acreage, which could include every use except industrial:

  • Vista Valley would fill 100 acres just east of Vista Ridge at the southeast corner of 99th Street and Ridgeview.
  • Vista Brook would sit on 30 acres sandwiched between Mill Creek and Ridgeview. Construction will be simultaneous with the remaining construction of Vista Village next spring.

West Star doesn’t have any commercial tenants to announce yet for Vista Ridge or Vista Village, but Christie said one of the biggest brand names in Kansas City’s beverage industry will be an anchor tenant in Vista Village. Examples of the types of users that would fit in the Vista Ridge development include fast food restaurants, a coffee shop, a frozen yogurt store and a liquor store.

“Our portfolio is about 97% local tenants,” Christie said. “We like to talk to the local mom-and-pop spots first and talk to the people that we think are going to be there for a long term to actually give back to the community.”

Christie said Lenexa’s residents crave the entertainment found at the Country Club Plaza, Crossroads Arts District and downtown Kansas City — just with a five-minute commute versus 20 minutes-plus. Vista Village aims to fulfill that need.

For Vista Village, NSPJ Architects is the architect, and Payne & Brockway PA is the civil engineer. Overland Park-based Davidson Architecture + Engineering is part of the Vista Ridge development team.

West Star’s 225-acre The Vista project will start construction in Lenexa – Kansas City Business Journal

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