Renovation Redux

It’s January, which means we are starting a new renovation!

Jacob and I are in the process of buying a house here in Kansas City that we plan on living in for a year while we spruce it up, then rent it out once we move back to Australia.  (The long-term plan is to redevelop the lot into townhouses or apartments.  That’s just dreaming right now, but it is why we chose this property –  it’s located in an area the city is trying to get to intensify uses in.  Great!)  Once the inspection is done this coming week –  and nothing major pops up during it –  we will be locked in to buy.

Our American Dream

The house is a 768 sq ft rectangle that was built in 1949 by JC Nichols (the guy who developed the Country Club Plaza and half of the inner suburbs of Kansas City) , and is exactly like a thousand other houses in the area.  Currently it is decorated in Americana (bright red room with a star border, bright yellow room with a flag border, and a bright blue room).  That will definitely be changing.

This renovation will be almost the polar opposite of the one we did in Sydney (and not just because we’re now on the opposite side of the planet).  The Sydney reno was a high-end, do-it-right, deal- with-apartment-block-neighbors, don’t-mess-it-up-because-we-could-be-out-of-a-lot-of-money-if-it-looks-bad job.  This reno is going to be a lot more laid back, a LOT cheaper, and hopefully a bit more experimental.  We’re not going to care if it isn’t done ‘right’, as long as it looks good and is going to last a few years.  We aren’t going to buy top of the line, most renters probably wouldn’t notice anyway.  My big worry is going overboard on renovations and spending money that isn’t necessary, particularly if we want to knock it down in a few years.

Here we go again…


How Not to Do Public Consultation

I went to a merchants’ meeting tonight at the Downtown Overland Park Partnership that was led by a senior planner from the City of Overland Park.  He was there to talk to local merchants and landowners (I was ‘representing’ my dad, but really I just am interested) about the changes the city is proposing to zoning and codes for Downtown Overland Park as part of the new vision for Overland Park.

Personally I think there is a lot of potential in Downtown Overland Park (my family’s ‘hood for over 50 years) for growth and development, and I’m excited about the changes.  That apparently did not come across to the planner when I was talking at the meeting.  He got incredibly defensive about every question I (and a developer) asked, wanting to focus on very broad concepts about what the city is planning.  Come on, this visioning process has been going on for at least 2 years, if not 3.  Everybody generally gets it.  It’s time to move on to how this is actually going to be implemented. Even though I didn’t always agree with my former boss, he was usually right on the mark when it came to town centre revitalisation strategies, and he always focused on the implementation aspect.

Note to that senior planner at the City of Overland Park:  you don’t represent yourself, the city, or your presentation topic well when you immediately get defensive and downright rude.