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South Johnson County – A Hot Spot For Living In Kansas.

You might think you’ve left Kansas if you visit the communities that make up South Johnson County. This is clearly not Dorothy’s Kansas anymore!

The home of the new Sprint World Headquarters, some of the best schools in the state, and some of the best shopping, the towns and cities that come together to form South Johnson County are anything but backwoods and timeless. With hard-hitting employers, excellent schools and upscale establishments, South Johnson County is making a name for itself outside the distinction of its association with the greater Kansas City area. Comprised of Olathe, Stilwell, Leawood, Gardner and Kansas’ second largest city, Overland Park, this part of the Kansas City metro area has gone beyond up-and-coming. It has arrived.

Although small in comparison to Kansas City and Overland Park, Olathe, Stilwell, Leawood and Gardner all offer their own draws for residents and visitors. Retaining their small-town charms, these communities have their own identities but also provide easy access to their larger neighbors, making them appealing to those who like to work in “the big city,” but enjoy a slower pace at home. Gardner offers tight-knit neighborhoods, a trail history that dates back to the 1800s and comfortable living in a community that’s close to the heart of it all. Plus, Gardner’s Historic Museum helps the town preserve its past while its present day residents embrace its future.

Leawood’s southern portion is home to Town Center Plaza, an upscale mall that provides shoppers 90 different locations to shop, plus Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Dean and Deluca. Considering this little town only has 14.7 acres and about 30,000 residents, it’s obvious small-town doesn’t have to mean boring. The city also provides its residents with 423 acres of parkland, 8.2 miles of walking trails and more.

Located just 20 miles outside of downtown Kansas City, Olathe is Johnson County’s second biggest community. With approximately 114,000 residents, Olathe is fast becoming a big city on its own. It prides itself on its award-winning school system, master-planned neighborhoods and breath-taking landscapes. It’s prime country for those loving the great outdoors with two large lakes and plenty of space for jogging, biking and hiking.

Overland Park – Making A Name For Itself.

One of the most sought after communities for living, Overland Park’s 167,000 plus residents enjoy their own convention center, parks, AAA-rate schools, arts displays and more. The city is home to the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, which strives to promote environmental and ecological consciousness within the area. The gardens are meant to become an educational, cultural and recreational mecca for the entire region. Situated on 300 acres, the Arboretum has eight distinct ecosystems within its bounds that include rare plant species and more. Plus, the Arboretum has its own hiking trails for those who want to enjoy its natural sights.

The Deanne Rose Children’s Farmstead is one of the reasons by Overland Park earned an A+ on the Kid Friendly Cities Report Card. This attraction is a 12-acre park that has farm animals, gardens, and a one-room schoolhouse, fishing pond, wagon and pony rides and a birds of prey exhibition. A city treasure, the Deanne Rose farmstead is open, free of charge for all those who want to explore its many exhibits and learn to appreciate both the past and present.

As the Arboretum and farmstead seek to preserve Overland Park’s past history and its present beauty, the community has proven its progressive side by opening its arms wide to economic development. Now home to the Sprint World Headquarters campus, Overland Park is an employment center all on its own. The Sprint campus covers 240 acres in Overland Park. Maintaining the beauty that surrounds it, the campus has 22 buildings and 16 parking garages to house its 14,500 employees, but designers managed to maintain 60 percent of the campus as green space land.

A city by itself, the Sprint campus includes restaurants, a fitness center, outdoor recreational facilities, a bank, convenience store, florist and more. Education is perhaps one of South Johnson County’s biggest draws and Overland Park’s Johnson County Community College adds to that priority. Offering courses to more than 34,000 students each semester, JCCC has itself firmly rooted in the technological present. The college offers day, evening and weekend classes plus telecourses on Time Warner cable channels. In addition, the school maintains small classes and has more than 100 transfer agreements with other colleges and universities in the region.

While South Johnson County’s communities offer the same hometown flavor that many of its neighbors do, the area has a proven willingness to embrace progress while preserving old-time charm. With major employers calling the area home, plus AAA-rated schools and convenient and upscale shopping, it’s no wonder South Johnson County is a hot place for people to live when they choose the Greater Kansas City area as their home. The communities here provide plenty of their own reasons for people to want to plant roots, plus they enjoy a close proximity to their metropolitan neighbor.

by Tiffany Lewis, Kansas City Premier Apartments, Inc.

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