a thriving, forward-looking community with a modern edge
Keeping its charms while modernizing, Andover, Kansas welcomes growth on the horizon
Located in the heart of Kansas, the charming city of Andover is a thriving community that offers a perfect blend of small-town charm and modern amenities. With a population of 15,000 residents, the city has grown rapidly in recent years, attracting people from all walks of life who are drawn to its excellent schools, and strong sense of community.
Andover’s commitment to education is evident in the words of its mayor, Ronnie Price, who proudly states, “Obviously, our schools are the reason people choose to move to Andover or close to Andover so they can get their children in our school system.” Indeed, the city’s school district serves nearly 9,000 students, many of whom reside just outside the city limits.
The city’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities add to its appeal. The Capitol Federal Amphitheater® is a significant draw, hosting a variety of acts and family gatherings throughout the year. Despite its rapid growth, the city has managed to maintain a tight-knit, community-oriented atmosphere. Mayor Price envisions Andover as “a big community more than a little town.”
Andover’s growth has given rise to new developments such as The Heritage, which is expected to include the city’s downtown hub where people can gather and spend quality time with their families and friends.
Jerry Jones, President of Jones Commercial Development and master developer of The Heritage, elaborates on the 110-acre master-planned community being developed in partnership with the city. He notes, “As the mayor said, one of the components of The Heritage is going to be a gathering place for the community and similar to a downtown that you might see in another community.”
The Heritage aims to address the city’s imbalance of commercial and residential spaces. The project will feature a walkable, pedestrian-oriented downtown area with numerous amenities, including a town square, major parking facility, parks, 35 acres of commercial development, and 50 acres of single-family residential development spread across two neighborhoods.
The project’s centerpiece is Heritage Square, a $55 million mixed-use development with 186 luxury apartments and 43,000 square feet of street-front, Main Street-style retail space. Jones explains that the entire development will be very pedestrian-oriented, with residents being able to walk from their homes to the town square in just five minutes.
Jones says, “We want to keep that small-town vibe but have many big-city amenities. So that’s the balance we’re trying to achieve.” By focusing on mixed-use developments and creating a vibrant, community-centered hub, Andover is poised for continued growth while preserving the qualities that make it a special place to call home.
Andover has faced its fair share of challenges, most notably the devastating impact of two significant tornadoes that struck the area 31 years apart. Despite these setbacks, Andover has proven to be a resilient community that bands together in the face of adversity, as City Administrator Jennifer McCausland explains: “The City of Andover is a resilient community, and it’s a community that pulls together, and I think that is attractive.”
This resilience and determination have become a defining characteristic of Andover, making it a place for people to want to establish roots. As McCausland points out, “I think when people see that, and they see how quickly the homes have been rebuilt, I think what they see is a place they want to be a part of and some strength.”
Despite the significant damage caused by the recent tornado in Andover, the city has addressed the infrastructure challenges necessary to accommodate the incoming business development, McCausland shares that the tornado had a relatively narrow path, primarily impacting 187 homes. Nevertheless, the city and its partners have worked hard to repair and reopen public facilities like the YMCA and a grade school.
One challenge the city faces is the loss of over a thousand trees in Central Park, a popular gathering place for residents. McCausland explains the city’s initial response, “We have replaced nearly 50 of the trees we’ve transplanted from our other large park in the community.”
“We said, ‘let’s move those trees to Central Park and start to rebuild some of the shade, some of the natural environment.’” This action highlights Andover’s resourcefulness and commitment to recovery.”
Regarding the city’s appeal as an education destination, Mayor Ronnie Price further explains the unique situation of the Andover school district, which sees a large number of students attending outside the city’s residential base.
He emphasizes the importance of making these families feel at home in Andover, even if they live just across the county line, by promoting community and encouraging them to spend time and money in the city. With ongoing projects like Heritage Square and the Red Bud Trail, the city is working to create more attractions and family entertainment options.
On sustainability, McCausland highlights the city’s focus on infill development, like the Heritage project, as an environmentally responsible approach to growth. By utilizing existing infrastructure and concentrating development within the city’s center, Andover minimizes the need to expand its borders. The city is also working to promote multi-modal transportation, encouraging more people to walk or cycle instead of relying on cars.
With the upcoming expansion of Highway 54, McCausland notes that the community will soon enjoy increased connectivity, allowing people to cross the highway on bikes or foot safely. This improvement will benefit residents and contribute to the city’s sustainability efforts.
Mayor Price adds that the community’s desire for walkability and green spaces makes it easier for city leaders to prioritize such initiatives. The input from citizens on parks and recreation projects often includes requests for wider sidewalks, better accessibility, and more green spaces. In response, the city is working to create safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists, connecting key areas like City Hall and 13th Street Park.
The mayor emphasizes the importance of community engagement in guiding Andover’s growth and development. With a citizen-driven push for walkability and environmentally-friendly initiatives, the city is well-positioned to create a more sustainable, connected, and vibrant community.
On a different note, Jones highlights a significant opportunity for workforce development in Andover through a partnership with Butler Community College and the Redler Institute of Culinary Arts.
“We’re meeting with the president and the head of the Culinary Institute next week to talk about opportunities for their students to work in the restaurants at the Heritage,” Jones shares. There are also plans to develop a hotel site that could potentially employ these students, providing a unique solution to the staffing challenges faced by the food and entertainment industry.
The Hospitality and Hotel Association has been working to raise awareness about the various career paths available in the restaurant and hotel business. With local students aware of these opportunities early on, it could be highly beneficial for the city to have a local employee base.
Jones agrees, stating, “The restaurant owners we’re talking to, their number one challenge is staffing. And something that we can offer that’s unique is students located just across the street.” He adds that Butler Community College is a tremendous public asset for the community, with many other programs that could prove advantageous for Andover.
Concerning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, McCausland believes that the lessons learned have favored communities like Andover. Many jobs can now be done remotely, making it possible for people to choose where they live.
The lower cost of living and the slower pace of life in Andover make it an appealing option for those looking to settle down. “I think that safety and security is appealing as people are trying to figure out where to put down roots. And if you can live anywhere, why not?” she stated.
The pandemic also demonstrated the appeal of living in smaller municipalities like Andover, where residents can enjoy safety, security, and community. This shift in perspective could work to the city’s advantage, attracting more people who value a balanced life and work environment.
Discussing the focus and direction for Andover in 2023 and beyond, McCausland emphasizes that expansion is a significant theme for the city. Infrastructure improvements, like the wastewater plant expansion, reflect the city’s growth and the need to address the demands of the increasing population.
“We have taken great pride in Central Park, and now we’re going to shift some of that focus to 13th Street Sports Park and make some improvements out there so that it can last for many decades to come,” she says. A second fire station is also planned to open in the fourth quarter of 2023, further showcasing the city’s commitment to public safety.
Mayor Price discusses the importance of keeping the city close-knit and maintaining a small-town feel even as it grows. He highlights the city’s efforts to ensure that the upcoming highway expansion does not divide the community.
Price states, “The exciting thing to me is we’re laser-focused on keeping our city close-knit. And I believe we can have entertainment and still maintain the feel of a small city.”
As Andover looks towards the future, the city aims to balance growth, infrastructure, and community spirit. With a solid commitment to expansion, public safety, and a close-knit atmosphere, Andover is positioning itself as a successful, attractive, and resilient city for years to come.
AT A GLANCE
What: A small city with modern amenities and planned expansion
Where: Butler County, Kansas
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