Board of County Commissioners approves real estate contract for future homeless services center

Commissioners sit at the dais during a Board of County Commissioners meeting

Johnson County is one step closer to having a homeless services center that would provide short-term shelter, plus services and support to help unhoused men and women work towards securing stable permanent housing.

Today, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners entered a real estate sales contract with the owner of the La Quinta property in Lenexa with the intention of remodeling it into a homeless services center. An owner/operator will be identified through a competitive process in early 2024.

“Supporting our county’s vulnerable populations has always been our mission, and more specifically, the Board’s 2023-2024 priorities include taking action on housing and homelessness,” said Board Chairman Mike Kelly. “We find ourselves in a unique opportunity to leverage federal funding and work towards a community solution to fill a critical gap in how Johnson County helps move those who are homeless towards more permanent housing solutions.”

In addition to the current Board priority, the Board’s Housing Subcommittee spent 2021 to 2023 researching and identifying housing issues in Johnson County, ultimately developing the Johnson County Housing Continuum.   The report recommends three housing priority areas, one of which is addressing homelessness.

Details of the Board’s contract

The county entered a real estate purchase agreement with MAA Krupa Lenexa, LLC to purchase two properties: a hotel located at 9461 Lenexa Drive and a closed restaurant at 9471 Lenexa Drive. The BOCC approved a total purchase price of $6 million for the two buildings, plus $500,000 for due diligence activities. The funds come from the federal Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

The contract includes 270 days of due diligence, and the county plans to execute the following:

  • Negotiating a buyout of franchise fees
  • Private appraisal
  • Title review
  • Evaluation of property
  • Environmental, major systems analysis
  • Special Use Permit planning

What a homeless services center could look like

Initial plans include providing about 50 private units for short-term shelter. During the day, residents could work, participate in job training/skills growing, receive health and/or mental health care, and connect with case managers to restore important documents, credit, or familial relationships.

The homeless service center would be staffed 24/7 and could accept people at any time. We do envision indoor communal areas (not for sleeping), an intake space, laundry facilities, storage for donations and operations and plenty of flexible space for on-site services, including services provided by Johnson County Mental Health Center. We do not envision people ever lining up outside for a bed or having to leave during the day.

Finding the right location

The county conducted an extensive property search for this project. The cost of land and new construction in Johnson County made building a new facility cost prohibitive. Available office space was located too close to residential areas or in strip malls with shared parking lots, was too large, or would require extensive renovations. Converting a hotel is the most economical and practical solution because it offers  private rooms, which are foundational in the non-congregate model.

The property at 9461 Lenexa Drive is currently operating as a 106-room hotel. It is “right-sized” for the identified need and allows for some capacity expansion in cases of emergency or population growth over time. It sits along major transportation routes, including several bus lines, and is near employment opportunities, while offering a bit of distance between the property and the nearest neighbors.

Next steps

The city of Lenexa’s code requires the property to have a Special Use Permit to operate as a non-congregate shelter. The code lays out minimum standards the center and its operator must include in a management plan and will be a major step in answering specific operational questions.

United Community Services of Johnson County will oversee the process to identify an owner/operator through a competitive Request for Proposal. Because of its role as the community’s designated Continuum of Care coordinator, UCS is in the best position to facilitate this evaluation process.. County staff, community members, and subject matter experts will have a role in the evaluation process, and UCS will follow the county’s procurement policies and procedures.

The county has created the web page with project updates and some Q&A. County staff will update that page as the project progresses.

Board of County Commissioners
Planning, Housing and Community Development
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