Lee's Summit EDC

Insight: How business leaders drove Lee's Summit's $16 million interchange investment

Reconstruction of the 40-year-old bridge and interchange at Route 291 South and U.S. 50 in Lee's Summit has been a long-standing priority for the business community. 

Its bottlenecks and congestion actually led Chip Moxley, owner of Tingle Flooring, to choose a location farther north for his headquarters. Going through the site selection process enlightened Moxley that prosperity for south Lee's Summit would be held hostage until the intersection was improved. As a result, Moxley joined forces with the Gateway Business Alliance to lobby for public awareness and investment in transportation projects.

"This interchange is among the most important initiatives we have undertaken, and it is hugely gratifying to finally break ground on this project," Moxley said at the recent groundbreaking for the $16 million, taxpayer-funded diverging diamond project, which includes reconstruction of the Route 291 overpass bridge and an adjacent roundabout.

The interchange won't be completed until late 2018, but Lee's Summit Economic Development Council President and CEO Rick McDowell said its benefits from a business recruiting standpoint are immediate.

"This project opens up hundreds of acres for commercial development," McDowell said. "With The Grove mixed-use development to the southeast slated to begin spec industrial construction this year, and Pinetree Plaza shopping center on the northwest quadrant targeted for redevelopment, this new interchange truly will serve as a new gateway to the south side of Lee's Summit."

The interchange also will help ease congestion through a heavily traveled residential and commercial route while enhancing safety and improving access for pedestrians and cyclists, according to Lee's Summit Mayor Randall Rhoads. 

Radmacher Brothers Construction based in Pleasant Hill, Mo., is providing general construction services for the project, and GBA Architects and Engineers of Lenexa, Kan. provided engineering and design services. Additional project partners include the Lee's Summit Chamber of CommerceDowntown Lee's Summit Main Street, and Friends of Lee's Summit.

The interchange is funded through a three-part cost sharing agreement, with the City of Lee's Summit paying $8 million; the US Department of Transportation paying $6.8 million through funds secured through the Mid-America Regional Council; and the Missouri Department of Transportation paying the remaining $1.22 million.

MWM Panel: Eastern Jackson County poised for peak altitude

MetroWireMedia's 2017 events series took flight Tuesday at Lee's Summit Municipal Airport, as the region’s leading developers, brokers and attorneys offered a birds’ eye view of the Eastern Jackson County commercial real estate market.

Surrounded by business aircraft and aviation mechanical equipment, panelists tackled everything from incentives to infrastructure to industrial spec development while updating myriad mixed-use and multifamily projects already aloft in the metro's eastern suburbs. 

Cerner’s new South Kansas City headquarters already is driving demand for new, amenity-rich single-family and multifamily housing options in Lee’s Summit and along the I-70 corridor, creating ongoing opportunity for retailers and restaurant operators.

“Families are happy and want to be in Lee’s Summit. And if you have a community where people want to live, retailers will follow,” Block & Co., Inc. Director Bill Maas said.

The consumer shift to online shopping is forcing many retailers to re-evaluate and scale back their brick-and-mortar footprints, but it also creates an opportunity for well-situated retail centers, according to Eric Mann, director of development for RED Brokerage.

“It’s location, location, location,” Mann said. “What goes into that is demographics, visibility, access and workforce. I-70 continues to be a great access point for Lee’s Summit, drawing people from areas like Odessa, Concordia and even further away.”

All signs point to continued growth; Lee’s Summit’s population is expected to reach 100,000 by 2020 and new single-family building permits are approaching pre-recession levels. Anecdotally, NorthPoint Development’s The Residences at New Longview apartments saw the fastest lease-up of any community to date when it opened in 2016, according to NorthPoint VP of Development Mark Pomerenke.

With $1 billion in public and private investment in Lee's Summit in 2015-2016, the flight path is clear, but panelists cautioned that rising construction costs and availability of incentives could create headwinds.  

“There are a lot of opportunities in Jackson County, but many properties don’t have infrastructure in place,” said Christine Bushyhead, an attorney whose law firm Bushyhead LLC specializes in incentives and public finance. “The fact is we need infrastructure.”

Rick McDowell, Lee’s Summit EDC president and CEO, agreed on the need for more shovel-ready sites but said development of a 200,000 square foot speculative industrial building at The Grove, an 83-acre mixed-use project on south Missouri 291, should encourage future activity.

“The key to landing advanced manufacturing and warehouse and distribution tenants is having product ready and available,” McDowell said. “We see tremendous opportunity for industrial growth near The Grove and in the area near Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport on the north side of town.”

Panelists said Lee’s Summit has potential to attract Class A office users, thanks to its strong workforce and workforce development programs supported by the Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Center.

“The biggest challenge is lack of product, but Lee’s Summit has come a long way in getting ahead and having development-ready sites,” said Michael Van Buskirk, Newmark Grubb Zimmer executive managing director.

Developers of the Paragon Star soccer village and entertainment complex at I-470 and View High Drive are hoping to lure Class A office users. The first phase of the $200 million destination entertainment complex is master planned for Class A office space, as well as hotel and retail space, according to Paragon Star Principal Bill Brown.

“Paragon Star’s location is a gateway to Lee’s Summit and Eastern Jackson County, so office users and brokers should begin looking at Lee’s Summit in a different way,” Brown said.

Ron Baker, Saint Luke’s East Hospital CEO, also served on the panel. Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads was emcee, and John Lovell III, Cobbs Allen risk consultant, moderated the discussion.

John Ohrazda, Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport Director, teed up the discussion by updating the airport’s 5,500 foot-long runway extension project, which will allow larger jets to takeoff and land and is expected to boost corporate airport traffic by up to 30 percent. The new runway is expected to open in August. 

Runway Construction Cleared for Takeoff at Lee’s Summit Airport

A key runway at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport will close in April as construction begins on the final phase of an airfield extension plan two decades in the making. The city first approved conceptual plans to extend the airport’s primary north/south runway in 1996, envisioning a corporate aircraft hub serving Eastern Jackson County that would lift Lee’s Summit’s economic profile. This September, the extended 5,500-foot long runway will finally open, paving the way for fresh economic development opportunity and expansion.

"This is an exciting time for Lee’s Summit with all of the economic development activity in the I-470 corridor near the airport. The runway extension will encourage additional investment as we accommodate more business and corporate aircraft," said Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads. “This project continues to solidify Lee’s Summit’s ranking as a best place to live in the metropolitan area, state, and nation.”

Approximately 50,000 takeoffs and landings occur at the Lee’s Summit Airport each year, with aircraft ranging from single engine, single seat planes to midsize corporate jets. On average, about 137 takeoffs and landings take place each day for a total of about 50,000 operations a year.  After the new runway is completed, airport officials predict air traffic will increase by 30 percent.

“These flights are primarily business related, and they bring marketing, professional, technical, service and support personnel to the area. Those travelers help boost the local economy by spending money at nearby hotels, car rental agencies and restaurants,” Lee’s Summit Airport Manager John Ohrazda said. “The new runway is expected to have a significant positive impact on Lee’s Summit Airport takeoffs and landings.”

All flights will be halted for three weeks starting April 10 when work begins on the primary intersection of the airport’s two runways. Air traffic is expected to resume by May 1 when the airport’s second, shorter runway reopens. Ohrazda said city staff and planners worked hard to minimize disruptions for users and airport tenants throughout the construction process. 

“While the short-term runway closures will be an inconvenience to all, the long-term benefits of the airport improvements will result in Lee’s Summit Airport being a first-class general aviation airport of which the aviation community can be proud,” Ohrazda said.

The runway improvements will be completed less than a year after Lee’s Summit purchased the former Air Charter hangar building at 2525 N.E. Douglas St., from DeJarnette Enterprises Inc. for $1.5 million. Renamed Hangar 1, the city purchased the 40,000 square foot facility to help accommodate expected demand for additional business aircraft space.

Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President and CEO Rick McDowell said his organization will leveragethe airport runway extension project and new hangar to help attract new investment and development. 

“The increase in aviation related activity creates a tremendous opportunity for enhanced business retention, expansion and attraction activity tied to the airport,” McDowell said. “The LSEDC plans to highlight the new hangar as an important community asset as we work to grow and attract businesses that rely on aviation.”

The runway improvements and hangar investment is expected to open up new development opportunities for Lee’s Summit, as well as surrounding communities in Eastern Jackson County and the entire Kansas City region, according to 2017 LSEDC Chairwoman Christine Bushyhead

“The ability to accommodate ‘based’ corporate aircraft, as well as offer additional room for overnight, transient aircraft, helps create a strong selling point for Lee’s Summit as an important gateway to the Kansas City region,” Bushyhead said.

Emery Sapp and Sons was the low bidder for the paving project, which began with phased-in airfield closures in the fall of 2016. Crawford Murphy and Tilly, Inc. is providing engineering services.

Lee's Summit Airport will be the setting-- and development in and around the airport will be a featured topic at MetroWireMedia's "This is our KC" breakfast and panel discussion from 7:30-9 am on April 11. Register for the event here and check out our panelists here. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Email Lisa@MetroWireMedia.com for more information!

QuikTrip bets on Lee's Summit with $15M investment

QuikTrip bets on Lee's Summit with $15M investment

The popular convenience store chain plans to capitalize on the growth in Lee's Summit with a $15 million investment. The City of Lee's Summit this week approved a plan for three "next generation" stores to be completed in 2017. The stores are 1,000 square feet larger than the average, and aim for an upscale experience that competes with coffee shops like Starbucks.

Lee's Summit: The next hottest development corridor

Lee's Summit: The next hottest development corridor

The Lee’s Summit Planning Commission stamped its approval Tuesday evening on a vast new $225 million development project spanning more than 80 acres in Lee’s Summit. It’s the latest in a string of investments in the eastern Jackson County suburb making it the hottest area of the city and one of the fastest growing cities in Missouri.