Economic Development

Leawood mixed-use expected to kickstart activity along 135th Street corridor

Leawood leaders say a just-approved $135 million mixed-used project along 135th Street near State Line Road may be exactly what the city needs to energize development activity on the east end of the well-traveled corridor.

Lashbrook Cos. on Monday received city approval for its development south of 135th Street between Kenneth Road and Chadwick, which includes 117 high-end villas, 182 luxury apartments, and retail space. The project also includes plans for an 81-unit assisted living facility developed by Johnson County Management.

“I’ve said for a long time that this is a great corridor, but it just needs a kickstart. It needs something to happen to bring the momentum,” said Bob Regnier, president of Bank of Blue Valley and whose family owns the land. “Rick (Lashbrook) has great product and the timing is right.”

The development strays from 135th Street Corridor development guidelines adopted by the Leawood City Council in 2013, so securing approval required some give-and-take.

“This is a good compromise and allows for forward movement. Just since the announcement, I have received a couple phone calls from people interested in that area,” Regnier said. “A nice project like this is announced, and all the sudden people are talking about it. People see the possibility.”

In addition to filling strong demand for attached villa-type property in Leawood, the project will allow the City to connect 137th Street from Kenneth Road to Metcalf Avenue.

“That route, like 133rd on the north side of 135th, will become a major east-west connector for not only vehicles, but for pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well,” said Kevin Jeffries, president and CEO of the Leawood Chamber & Economic Development Council. “The office, retail, multifamily, and senior living components proposed for later phases will also be a welcome addition to the 135th Street Corridor.”

Construction on the unnamed project is set to begin in late 2019 with completion expected 2-3 years later.

Rosin Preservation savors winning streak despite tax credit uncertainty

Rosin Preservation will close out 2018 with a string of high-profile projects despite uncertainty surrounding Missouri’s historic tax credit program. In October alone, four of the firm’s Downtown Kansas City historic preservation projects will open, beginning with Foutch Brothers LLC’s $39 million redevelopment of Kemper Arena into HyVee Arena, a youth and amateur sports hub.

With $1.6 billion in completed projects over the past 20 years, CEO Elizabeth Rosin said that securing a historic designation for the 1970’s-era venue was among the most challenging projects the firm has undertaken. Although construction took about a year, it took over three years to secure the arena's place on the National Registry of Historic Places.

“The building is less than 50 years old, so we had to figure out why it was historically significant other than its architecture and engineering,” Rosin said. “We ended up talking about its importance as a cultural and social icon for Kansas City because of the wide range of events held there for an entire generation. Everybody has a memory of Kemper Arena, whether it’s Big 12 Basketball, the American Royal, a concert, circus, convention or some other sporting event.”

The redevelopment of the iconic and beloved Savoy Hotel into the 21c Museum Hotel, replete with curated gallery spaced and art installations, was equally challenging. Rosin said the Savoy, which reopened in July, was in much rougher shape than most people realized.

“There are always surprises when you get into a building, and this one-- because of its age-- had a few more surprises so there were plenty of questions to deal with on the fly,” Rosin said. “A big part of our job was making sure that the elements that contributed to the Savoy’s sense of history and the character of the building were preserved.”

The hotel was constructed in five stages between the 1880’s and 1917, which meant it had several types of molding and doors that needed attention and preservation.

“The challenge was helping people understand what all those elements were and what needed to be protected and why-- and then figuring out how to meld that into the building,” Rosin said.

Additional Rosin Preservation projects completed this month include the renovation of the former Brookfield Building into Hotel Indigo, the former Pabst and Pendergast Buildings redeveloped into the Crossroads Hotel, and the old Jensen Salsbery Lab transformed into the new headquarters of Centric Projects and Superior Bowen.

This fall, the old Downtown Lee’s Summit Post Office reopened as the Bridge Space co-working facility, and Rosin also is working on renovating and restoring the Longview Mansion and barns. 

The good news for Rosin and those in the business of preserving historic buildings is that although lawmakers have scaled back funding for Missouri’s historic tax credit program from $140 million to $120 million a year, it remains intact for now. However, it’s unclear how new guidelines will affect the program.

“The bill also included a requirement that DED (Missouri Department of Economic Development) evaluate the ‘net fiscal benefit of applications,’ and we are still waiting to find out what that means,” Rosin said.

Rosin Preservation has completed over $1.6 billion in historic tax credit construction nationwide. Additional noteworthy projects include the Oklahoma State Capitol and the Empire State Building in New York City.

Photo Credit: Brad Finch, f-stop Photography

Overstock.com leases 517,000 SF in KCK, plans to hire 200

Overstock.com has leased 517,000 square feet for a new distribution center at 5300 Kansas Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. 

Luke Burbank and Kyle Roberts with Newmark Grubb Acres in Salt Lake City led the national site search for Overstock.com. Mark Long and John Hassler with Newmark Grubb Zimmer teamed with Newmark Grubb Acres to provide assistance with lease negotiations in the Kansas City region.  The building is owned by BH Properties based in Los Angeles, California. 

“Selecting Kansas City as the home of Overstock’s newest fulfillment center allows us to offer over 99 percent of our US customers two-day shipping options, improving shopping experiences by getting orders into the customer’s hands as soon as possible,” said Carroll Morale, Overstock.com vice president of supply chain. “We’re extremely thankful for all of the support and collaboration we’ve received from state and local officials and the Kansas City Area Development Council during this expansion process.”

Check out the official news release from KC SmartPort!

Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort, led economic development incentive efforts with regional partners including the State of Kansas Department of Commerce and the Wyandotte Economic Development Council. Overstock.com will begin to move in immediately and will employ up to 200 people.

“Kansas offers a great central location and the best workers in the country for any company looking to relocate here. We are thrilled that a successful company such as Overstock has selected Kansas City for its latest distribution center,” said Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D. “Opening for business in Kansas will provide Overstock.com with an excellent strategic location and creates hundreds of well-paying job opportunities for Kansans.”

Bridge Space connects Lee's Summit's past with present coworking trend

Downtown Lee’s Summit officially joins the coworking movement with the Wednesday opening of Bridge Space, a 14,000-square foot redevelopment of the city’s historic U.S. Post Office.

Bridge Space includes 34 private offices, 12 dedicated desks, 6 state-of-the-art conference rooms, and 3,000-square feet of open coworking space, as well as a 2,000-square foot event space with mezzanine and balcony.

Longtime Downtown Lee’s Summit resident and serial entrepreneur Ben Rao led and championed the redevelopment effort, which involved the arduous process of securing a spot on the national historic registry.

“This entire project for me was very personal and very intentional,” Rao said. “I wanted to exploit the walkability of Downtown Lee’s Summit. There’s a real quality of life here.”

Rao envisioned a startup facility that would attract economic development in Lee’s Summit by encouraging companies to incubate businesses in their hometown. It’s a concept that Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President Rick McDowell agreed is much needed.

“A coworking facility like Bridge Space has been a desire of Lee’s Summit for some time,” McDowell said. “The LSEDC looks forward to helping entrepreneurs who may get started in Bridge Space grow their businesses and increase their capital investment and workforce in Lee’s Summit.”

The Bridge Space redevelopment was made possible through state and national historic tax credits, as well as $200,000 in city incentives granted through the LCRA (Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority.)

“This is really an economic development play- completely- to the point that I’m getting calls from other cities. They want to talk about how we did this in Downtown Lee’s Summit,” Rao said.

Bridge Space amenities include a member lounge, large kitchen, café area with free coffee for members. Conference rooms are loaded with 55-inch 4K TVs and multiple hardwire and internet connections.

More than 500 people registered in advance to attend Bridge Space’s grand opening Wednesday night.

Florida healthcare technology company expands to metro with new Lenexa distribution center

Convey Health Solutions has expanded into the Kansas City region with a new 38,000-square foot distribution facility at Lackman Business Center, 106th Street and Lackman Road, in Lenexa. The leased space will accommodate the company’s expected growth in the government sponsored healthcare market, allowing Convey to more than triple its shipping capacity.

“As we continue to provide end-to-end OTC solutions for major health plans in the Medicare and Medicaid markets, we want to operate in a central location to provide better service to our clients and their members,” Convey Executive Vice President Jonathan Starr said. 

Convey’s benefits program is designed to help members better manage their day-to-day health while at home. With volume projected to grow more than 50 percent in 2019, the company’s new location will include the latest logistics technology to increase efficiencies and streamline the distribution process.

Convey plans to hire 40 employees at its Lenexa facility. Phil Algrim of Jones Lang LaSalle represented Convey in the transaction; Joe Accurso and Rob Holland of Cushman & Wakefield represented the landlord. Additional partners included the State of KansasCity of LenexaKansas City Area Development Council, and KC SmartPort. 

“Kansas City continues to attract distribution centers due to our access to markets and customers throughout the U.S., and Convey recognized this locational advantage,” said KC SmartPort President Chris Gutierrez. “We expect to see another great year of locational decisions in KC with manufacturing, regional distribution and e-commerce facilities.”

“It is always exciting to welcome a fast-growing company like Convey Health Solutions to our region,” added KCADC President and CEO Tim Cowden. “The KC region continues to rise to the top of the list of cities that are ideal for logistics, supply chain and distribution operations and we’re honored to be the newest home for Convey.”

Additional comments from project partners:

“Our state’s central location always makes Kansas the prime choice for companies looking to locate a distribution center, and combined with the Kansas City area’s already strong concentration of healthcare service companies, Convey Health Solutions couldn’t have picked a better location for its new facility,” said Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. “We are excited to have this pioneering technology company expanding in Kansas and look forward to our continued partnership.”

“We are very pleased that Convey Health Solutions has chosen Lenexa for their new facility,” said Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm. “This operation will feature top of the line technology and will serve as a showcase for the industry. I think Convey will be a great addition to the region.”