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Satterlee tells The Pitch that the main issue she has with the project is its density. The plan seeks to replace the 100,000-square-foot middle school, and its surrounding soccer fields and the like, with 387,244 square feet of senior-care center. Along the boundary of the development are residences, many of them single-family homes.
For perspective, Mission Chateau would be larger than the 253,000-square-foot, 10-story office building under construction for Petersen's Polsinelli firm near the County Club Plaza.
But Mission Chateau's footprint won't be slim and vertical. Instead, it will be spread across a large, three-story building incorporating living space, a separate "skilled nursing and memory care" center and six so-called villas (sort of like duplexes for seniors). Roughly 360 residents would live there at any one time.
The Satterlees and others at the meeting say they're not against development. But why, for example, couldn't the proposal be all villas?
Tutera says there's not a market for stand-alone senior villas.
"The draw to the villas is the access to the services here," Tutera says. He points to a map of the independent living and nursing facilities that would replace the old middle school.
Construction is another matter for neighbors, with the project estimated to take as long as two and a half years to fully build out.
And while Petersen spent much of the meeting telling the crowd that the Tutera Group had changed the plan to accommodate some concerns, Tutera says that senior-living communities are what he does.
"That's the one thing we can never change," he says.
This is the biggest parcel we've dealt with in a long time," says Dennis Enslinger, Prairie Village's assistant city administrator, who has attended many of the community meetings for the $50 million Mission Chateau plan.
Unlike nearby Somerset Elementary, which was mostly closed for a number of years before becoming an assisted-living facility, Mission Valley Middle School announced its impending closure and subsequent sell-off in relatively short order.
Mission Valley closed at the end of the 2011 school year, about half a year after the board voted to close it.
Prairie Village's comprehensive plan — a kind of a guide for how development should unfold over a given period — hadn't anticipated the possibility of the school's closing. But enrollment had dropped to about half the capacity for the school, prompting district administrators to put the building on its endangered list.
Ron Shaffer, mayor of Prairie Village, acknowledges an emotional connection between the city and its schools. "Schools are very important to us in Prairie Village and to our citizens," he tells The Pitch.
Shaffer says the law obliges him not to publicly state his opinion on the project until it has been formally presented to the City Council. That won't happen until this summer; it might be as late as August before the plan moves through at least a pair of Prairie Village Planning Commission meetings and is ready for prime time before the council.
The Tutera Group has a few advantages so far. For one, the current zoning on the property, while designated as single-family residential, allows for special-use permits for things like senior-living communities.
The City Council will make its ultimate decision based on a recommendation from the Planning Commission, which will scope the project for technicalities such as setbacks and codes. Neither body, though, audits the developer.
"We don't vet them, but we're aware of Tutera's history and that they have been successful in this type of project across the United States," Shaffer says.
Brian Lee, a nursing-home watchdog, says the Tutera Group's record isn't all success.