Deron Cherry recalled coming to Kansas City in 1981 after being signed by the Chiefs as a free agent punter out of Rutgers University.
Cherry didn’t make the squad as a punter but, not wanting to give up on his NFL dream, he called Coach Marv Levy and asked to try out as a defensive back.
“Had I not made that call, my life would have turned out a lot differently,” said Cherry, who became an all-pro safety and now is one of the developers of a proposed $300 million mixed-use development in Grandview.
Now, Cherry said during a public announcement of the Gateway Village project on Friday afternoon, his dream is to change the lives of many youths and their families through development, which will be anchored by a sports complex on the north side of Missouri Highway 150 between Byars and Kelley roads.
Cherry’s development team for the 240-acre project also includes Kurt Pycior, a commercial builder and developer, and Shane Hackett, executive director for the Overland Park-based Heartland Soccer Association.
Hackett said the Gateway Village sports complex will include 15 turf soccer fields, including one stadium field, making it the largest all-turf complex in the world.
Heartland Soccer, the nation’s largest soccer league, has entered into a long-term agreement to be the master tenant and scheduler for the fields, which will also be available for football and lacrosse. They are expected to be ready for the fall 2016 season.
Hackett said Heartland Soccer includes more than 170 soccer clubs in Missouri and Kansas and brings in teams from three other states for league play and a total of 16 states for tournaments, many of which now will be scheduled at Gateway Village.
Heartland, which is also a master league tenant for the Overland Park Soccer Complex and Swope Park Soccer Village, involves youth ages 8 through 19 in levels ranging from recreational to top travel divisions.
Cherry, whose four children have all played soccer, credited his wife with the idea for a complex where families can play, stay, dine and shop in one location.
Besides the fields, the soccer complex will include a 130,000-square-foot fieldhouse, containing 12 basketball and futsal courts, 24 volleyball courts and 25,000 square feet of space for other sports-related activities. A restaurant inside the fieldhouse also is planned.
The sports complex also will include two hotels at its entrance and a retail village, with 168,000 square feet of restaurants and stores catering to families using the sports complex.
Other components of the project include 42 new single-family homes, in addition to 99 already developed on the site; about 300 upscale apartments; and an additional 30-acre retail area fronting on M-150 that will include 230,000 square feet of retail and potentially a third hotel.
On the northern edge of the project, the developers also plan parkland, an RV park and a recreational area that will include a waterpark, rock climbing, miniature golf, laser tag and banquet space.
“Families will be able to make a vacation of it,” Pycior said of the project, which now begins the city approval process.
The developers plan to ask for tax increment financing, and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Kansas City, said he was attempting to secure federal money for the project.
Rob Roberts | Reporter – Kansas City Business Journal