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Coleman Crest Development

by Ryan Long

Dave Melzer, Project Manager with Dean Realty, spoke at the February meeting of the Coleman Highlands Board to present plans for four new homes on the property west of Holly Street at 32nd Street. Joining Dave were Lonnie Wyzard, Project Supervisor with Dean Realty and Clint Evans, Co-President with NSPJ Architects.

Dean Realty's Proposed Coleman Crest DevelopmentPresentation Summary:

The property will be reconfigured into four lots. Dean Realty will construct utilities and street improvements and then offer the lots for sale. Buyers will select their own contractor and build their own home. To control quality of design and construction, by contract, Dean Realty will require new home designs to be complimentary with the Coleman Highlands neighborhood in terms of such things as building materials, heights, footprints and setbacks. A buyer will not be allowed to purchase and combine multiple lots to build one inappropriately large home.

According to city maps, the west boundary of both the Coleman Highlands Neighborhood Association and Coleman Highlands Historic District is Holly Street. This land, on the west side of Holly Street, is outside those boundaries. It is zoned M1-5, a manufacturing district that does permit single-family residential with a special use permit. However, M1-5 allows uses that are incompatible with a neighborhood of single-family residences, so Dean is working with the City to rezone to a residential classification appropriate to Coleman Highlands.

Dean Realty commissioned NSPJ Architects to develop a master plan layout for the whole property and pre-liminary designs for unique homes on each of the four lots. Except for the furthest north home, each is two-stories, about 2,400 square feet, with front and side yard sizes similar to those seen in Coleman Highlands. Ultimately, each buyer may bring his or her own architect to create a new design from scratch, or choose to build an NSPJ-designed home.

Beginning in May, Holly Street improvements are designed to provide access to each home without having to extend Holly to the south or north, minimizing impact. The turnaround shown provides the required fire department equipment access and the driveway connection to the home at the south end.

Q&A Following the Presentation:

Q: Have immediate neighbors been informed of the development?

A: We have met personally with the immediate neighbors.

Q: We’ve heard rumors these are to be upscale properties; what are the price points?

A: We want these properties to be consistent with the uniqueness of Coleman Highlands, and want to create a special place, one that takes advantage of views of the City, as well as the natural woods and slopes. The lot pric-es will be influenced both by our cost to construct the utility and street improvements, and the market. And in today’s market, new construction is expensive. We have seen new construction in similar neighborhoods of homes this size with high-end design and finishes cost $300,000–500,000, after the owner may have paid $100,000 or more to buy an existing property and tear down the house. These are like the homes we’re proposing, built by people that want to fit into an urban neighborhood but prefer new construction or contemporary design.

Q: How can we be sure this won’t be a repeat of the house with the blue roof?

A: Dean Realty is under the new leadership of Lester Dean (Jr.) following the death of Lester Dean, Sr.; Dean Realty and Lester Dean want to be good neighbors and part of the community. We have demonstrated this commitment by first selling the neglected home we owned to someone we knew was capable of properly restoring it, and we are leading the effort of make street and sidewalk improvements to 31st Street. And with the passing of Lester Dean, Sr., the circumstances that led to the house with the blue roof no longer apply, so that house will not be repeated.


Coleman Highlands: A Historic District


by Brian McMillan

As many of you are aware, the Coleman Highlands subdivision is classified as a Historic District. This classification was obtained by the neighborhood in 1996. The purpose of a Historic District classification is to preserve the visual, architectural and structural integrity of our neighborhood. The reason Coleman Highlands has the ambiance that we all find so appealing is due to its architectural imagery. To preserve and protect this imagery there are guidelines and limitations as to what types construction is allowed, be it new construction or renovation and repair, in a Historic District.

The governing body is the KCMO Historic Preservation Office and Commission. Brad Wolf is the director and go-to guy if you have questions (816) 513-2902. The basic guidelines are any “exterior changes” that would be considered “material changes” need to be approved by the Landmarks Commission. These material changes would be modifications beyond “in kind repair.” In other words repairing or replacing something which has rotted or deteriorated is not subject for review. Whereas material changes or architectural additions/expansions that would alter the original integrity or visual character of the structure, would be subject for review. At issue will be what is visible from the street.

Depending on the scope and scale of the modification, reviews can often be handled either on the phone with digital photographs or over the counter. Of common concern are paint schemes/colors and window replacements. More substantial modifications and new construction will require obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Landmarks Commission. Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness involves filing an application with supporting documentation. Brad Wolf will consult with the applicant, review the application and write a staff report which will be submitted to the Landmarks Commission for a formal hearing resulting in approval or denial. These hearings are open to the public and neighborhood input is welcome.

Personally, I built a new home in Coleman Highlands in 2005 and while the process was rigorous, it was fair and feasible. There are Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation which you will find on KCMO Historic Preservation webpage ( The key with new construction is to be sympathetic to the surrounding property’s historic character. They’re not asking for, and typically disallow, designs intended to appear as though they were built in the 1920’s. What they are asking for is that the character, size, scale, bulk and architectural massing be in keeping with the surrounding structures.

The Coleman Highlands neighborhood was platted by Robert Coleman in August of 1907. The location was ideal for a new suburb—atop a bluff, with fresh air and cool breezes, and located near streetcar connections to downtown, the west bottoms and Westport. The original plat divided the Coleman farm into 293 lots. Most houses were built between 1908 and World War I and a second wave of construction occurred between World War I and World War II. These homes were built in a variety of styles that included Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Prairie, Bungalow and Kansas City Shirtwaist. During the early 1950s, a third wave of construction occurred in the neighborhood, primarily of Ranch houses in an area just north of West Coleman Road and 33rd Street, where a ravine was filled in and leveled during 1945.

For more information on what it means for Coleman Highlands to be a historic district, reach out to a board member, or visit


Banner Update

Yes – the Banner project is still in the works. Application for a city mini-grant was submitted to assist with funding, and coordination of installation is ongoing. Determination of final design to use for the banners should be made soon. Please contact Jeff Harms should you have any questions.