I try to make it a point to tour neo-traditional neighborhoods or new urbanism influenced projects every trip that I take. This week, I am staying with my brother in Shawnee, Kansas. So this morning I visited the tndtownpaper.com website (which has a great list of links to tnd’s etc. across the world). The closest item on the list is called Park Place at Legacy Town Center in Leawood, KS. The website for the project was pretty intriguing so I visited it. Prior to arriving at Park Place, I saw the familiar sprawl landscape that is familiar in any suburb across the U.S., so nothing too exciting. As soon as I turned into it, I was pleasantly surprised.

The streetscape was done well and looked manicured. The buildings had a good feel and form to them (falls on the transect around T-5), good first floor heights, variety of ornamentation, etc. The upper floors of the buildings were not anything too special, but at least they were present. It had the feel of lifestyle center with the upgrade of 2nd/3rd stories. I couldn’t tell what the occupancy was on the upper floors, but they were at least habitable spaces unlike most lifestyle centers where they will simply put a faux 2nd story. The street widths were a little wider than necessary, sidewalk a little narrower than they should be and the round-a-bout was small with more space dedicated to the automobile than pedestrian/plant life. One architectural feature that was very encouraging was the attention to way-finding from the “Main Street” to the parking areas. The 2/3 story buildings had what looked like about 16-ft first floor opening/passageway from the Main Street to the parking. Very nice detail that will help the project in the future. Park Place should make an incredible impact to the use of this AMC theater.

Too often, destinations like arenas/theaters are built with no regard to what the patrons do before/after seeing a movie/game/play, etc. I would definately pay the extra $3 to $4 per movie to go to a theater where I can eat prior to a movie and have a few beers afterwards.
It isn’t fair to compare it to Belmar in Denver, but if Belmar is a 8.5 out of 10 for urbanism, this was about a 6.5. To be fair, this is not fully built-out. The website advertises townhomes, etc. which I did not see. They would go a long way it making this place much more inviting.
Across the collector road, was your typical conventional strip mall stuff (I would rank it around 2). Complete with an AMC theater, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc. At least the theater was walkable to the restaurants, etc. It was actually easier for the pedestrian to cross the collector road to reach Park Place than it was to traverse the parking lot to the Panera, etc. within the actual development.

I look forward to revisiting the project in 5 years or so when it is closer to completion or completed. It seems that it will have the feel of “Zonarosa”, also in Kansas City Metro when completed but hopefully with more of a 24-hour presence with the residential and the hotel (also very encouraging to see incoporated into Park Place).
Tomorrow, I will be visiting my favorite place in the region (Country Club Plaza in Kansas City). The Plaza as it is known is the original Traditional Neighborhood. It is New Urbanism before it was new and is a must-see for me (and my family) everytime I am in the KC Metro. As long as my camera does not break before then, I will have many pictures from the Plaza.