Wanted in Edgerton: Restaurant and residential development

With almost 11 million square feet of industrial space under construction and 3,400 new jobs created in three years, the City of Edgerton is scrambling to attract retail, restaurant and residential development activity.

“Our projects went extremely fast. The amount of traffic and number of employees we are seeing here and the desire to have amenities and housing options nearby just continues to increase,” said Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts.

NorthPoint Development’s Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton is among the most successful industrial park buildouts in the nation in recent memory, both in terms of total square footage and speed to market. But attracting and building ancillary development to support the burgeoning workforce has a longer runway, and that’s one reason the city launched its own economic development partnership, ElevateEdgerton!, earlier this year.

“There is a lot of development happening in the KC area right now, and we are trying to compete with other more established areas and trying to get people to come to Edgerton,” said Edgerton City Administrator Beth Linn. “Once people are at (LPKC), it sells itself, but getting them here can be a challenge because we are kind of an unknown in the market.”

The basic message ElevateEdgerton! wants to send is that the market is ripe and ready for additional investment beyond industrial warehouse and distribution projects. The influx of thousands of new Amazon and UPS workers requiring places to eat and spend money before, during and after their workdays has changed the conversation.

“We have the numbers, and we have to bring these other sectors,” Roberts said. “Two years ago, things were different, but a fast service restaurant will make it in Edgerton today.”

Russell Pearson with NAI Heartland is on the team marketing the Midwest Gateway speculative industrial project in Edgerton and agrees that the time is right for more development: "The industrial growth in Edgerton has been dramatic in the past few years, and this creates a real opportunity for developers to deliver commercial and residential product to support the employee base in that area.”

In addition to restaurant and residential housing, the city is working to attract a large, full-service truck stop to accommodate commercial vehicles and possibly provide additional quick service dining. Roberts believes that a dramatic rise in traffic counts over the past three years will help make the case.

“Homestead Lane wasn't even open 3 ½ years ago. To go from 0 to 10,000 vehicles a day is unheard of,” Roberts said.

Interested developers should contact Steve Hale at ElevateEdgerton! to identify top sites.

Five minutes with new SKW President Brian Johanning

In July, Shafer, Kline & Warren announced that Brian Johanning would step in to lead the firm’s infrastructure and development business, replacing Larry Graham. The promotion is the culmination of a leadership succession plan two years in the making. MWM caught up with Johanning recently to find out more about his strategy for SKW’s future success.

MWM: What are your immediate goals?

Johanning: Right now, we are trying to build on a company that has a 67-year old foundation here in Kansas City-- with roots and survey records going back to the late 1800s-- and trying to maintain that strong brand while injecting a startup mentality back into the business and really trying to drive an entrepreneurial, performance based culture.

MWM: Clearly, SKW has a strong market presence and history. How do you preserve that while innovating growth?

Johanning: The leadership of old certainly was cognizant of the myriad of risks out there in the marketplace but their propensity to talk about it and be transparent about those risk analytics was a bit more reserved. In today’s world where information flows so quickly and freely, you have to be willing to “coach your people up” beyond the contract. We have partners who are dynamic, and at the end of the day it boils down to building good, solid relationships bonded in trust. That trust comes when the walls to difficult conversations come down, so we have to think strategically to soften some of those barriers.

MWM: SKW is mid-sized engineering firm. What are the advantages and disadvantages to that?

Johanning: It can be a tough spot, but it’s also fun to figure out your strategy. Some of the biggest engineering companies in the world are here in KC. Sometimes you’re going up against them and other days it’s a survey guy working out of the back of his pickup truck, and you find a way to compete accordingly. So we are trying to share more value, and that isn’t always about price; sometimes it is about expertise and local experience. Larry Graham, Tom Smith and others who have been here 45 plus years are walking CRMs. You can walk up to them and ask about any intersection in town and they have a story about it and probably have a record about it. The competition can’t say that. Having that walking encyclopedia down the hall is so valuable. 

MWM: As you work to grow SKW, what kind of team will you be building?   

Johanning: We see the market shifting to more integrated project delivery and where the entire project team is brought together sooner, if you will. Having talent that can support multiple business units is highly desirable. The utility player is sometimes looked at as a commodity, but Ben Zobrist changed that for the Royals, so for us it is about finding people like that who are capable of tackling different projects. On almost every land development project there’s a public component—whether it’s sewer line or land change or water main—so being able to straddle that fence and represent all the stakeholders is really important, and that’s what we are looking at going forward.

MWM: How will you use your business development background to grow SKW?

Johanning: The most effective business business development tool in the world is doing good work. I feel like the rainmaker of the next 21st century is the person who can attract the most skilled and entrepreneurial talent because if those folks come to an organization and focus on delivering a quality product, there’s no better business development tool than that.

Lee's Summit study finds city is ripe for fresh multi-family development

The City of Lee’s Summit could support up to 2,300 additional market rate apartments over the next decade beyond existing supply or projects in the pipeline, according to a 2017 multi-family housing study commissioned by the Lee’s Summit City Council and conducted by Vogt Strategic Insights.

“Lee’s Summit continues to see strong activity and interest in multi-family construction, and this study will help inform the city’s economic development decisions as it considers future projects,” Ryan Elam, director of the Lee’s Summit Development Center, said in a release.

Multi-family construction in Lee’s Summit dried up after the 2008 housing crisis but saw signs of life in 2016 when NorthPoint Development opened The Residences at New Longview, a 309-unit, luxury apartment community that saw the developer’s fastest lease-up to date. 

“New Longview’s success essentially became a proof-of-concept for Lee’s Summit multi-family development, leading to a sharp uptick in permits and proposed projects,” said Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President Rick McDowell. “In 2016, the city approved five new apartment complexes, for a total of more than 1,400 living units.”

The study found that Lee’s Summit’s existing market is very strong with a 98.4 percent occupancy rate, with about 30 percent of renters coming from outside the area. In addition to identifying strong capacity for market-rate apartment development, the study found that Lee’s Summit could support up to 503 additional units of age-restricted housing, as well as up to 400 additional units of affordable apartments.

To conduct the study, Vogt Strategic Insights completed a field survey of 27 apartment projects in Lee’s Summit and 101 projects throughout the region, comparing rents and amenities among more than 22,000 rental units in Independence, Blue Springs, Grandview, Overland Park, Olathe, Lenexa, and Lee’s Summit.

The 200-page housing study considered factors such as demographics, population growth forecasts, household income and the regional suburban Kansas City apartment market, and used a conservative 4.4 percent predicted growth in households over the next 10 years.

Pickwick Plaza gets dolled up for new generation

Pickwick Plaza, the 1930's-era hotel renowned for attracting high-profile visitors like Harry S Truman and Kansas City "Boss" Tom Pendergast, has been successfully transformed into luxury apartments and retail space. Developed by Gold Crown Properties Inc., the East 9 at Pickwick Plaza mixed-use development includes 260 units and 35,000 square feet of street-level commercial space.

East 9 at Pickwick Plaza is poised to attract a diverse group of renters, particularly Millennials seeking a downtown Kansas City address with quick access to nightlife, the central business district, and public transportation.

However, one well-known Empty Nester – Kansas City Mayor Sly James—said he would consider the property when he leaves public office.

“… my wife and I will be looking around town to figure out where we're going to live. This is certainly going to be a place on the list,” James said at the recent East 9 Grand Opening event, adding that he wants to live near the KC Streetcar line.

Construction on the $65 million adaptive reuse project was completed in less than two years, but Gold Crown Properties’ vision for giving the historic hotel a grand make-over dates to 2010. 

More than 70 percent of the units are already leased with full leasing expected by the end of 2017. Amenities include a fitness center, swimming pool and spa, community rooms, business center, wine lockers and wine tasting room, free Wi-Fi, and 314 parking spaces. Commercial tenants include UPS, City Gym and an unnamed restaurant and bar.

Local artist Joe Munson provided design services for the lobby, as well as exterior retail signage. Metropolitan Capital Advisors, MR Capital Advisors, Rosin Preservation, HarenLaughlin Construction, Helix Architecture + Design and Krudwig Structural Engineers rounded out the development team. ThirdRail provided marketing services for the project. 

Vertical construction moves forward on Belton Gateway Phase Two

Infrastructure, pad site preparation and road reconstruction for the $63 million Phase Two of Belton Gateway are underway, with the first restaurant scheduled to open later this year and five new retailers on target to open in early 2018.

The future home of Kneaders Bakery is under construction at Christie Development Associates LLC's 47-acre, $136 million retail center just west of I-49 along Y Highway, and crews are preparing pad sites for Ross Dress for Less, MarshallsParty City, Petco, and Five Below.

“Belton Gateway is quickly becoming Cass County’s premier retail destination, thanks to its location just west of I-49 and Y Highway,” said Belton Community and Economic Development Director Jay Leipzig. “We are seeing a tremendous amount of activity in this corridor, which offers retailers great visibility and convenient highway access due to a new interchange.”

Relocation of Turner Road is on target for completion in the third quarter of 2017 and will improve traffic flow from Y Highway/163rd Street to Belton's North Scott Redevelopment Corridor. 

Developed by Christie Development, Belton Gateway’s two phases include more than 182,000 square feet of developable space adjacent to the recently constructed I-49/Y Highway interchange that carries an estimated 85,000 vehicles daily.

The project’s $70 million Phase One developed in conjunction with Block & Company, Inc. included a 58,000 square foot Academy Sports and Outdoors store, 55,000 square foot Hobby Lobby, and two multiple-tenant retail buildings that are home to Belton Family Dental Care, Fazoli’s, and Cricket Wireless. The project's master plan includes construction of a 20,000 square foot hotel.