Lee's Summit Economic Development Council

CushWake, Cerner team up to reboot sprawling Summit Tech building

Cerner has plugged into the Kansas City commercial real estate market, teaming up with Cushman & Wakefield to rebrand and launch the Lee’s Summit Integration Campus (LSIC), a 500,000-square foot tech hub at 777 NW Blue Parkway. Brokers were invited to a Feb. 14 luncheon and tour of the project, which comprises the north building of the former Summit Technology Campus (STC).

“We think it’s important that all of you know, as you bring prospects through, that this project carries with it quality ownership (Cerner) that is committed to providing a quality tenant experience and the promotion of health and wellness,” Cushman & Wakefield Director Suzanne Dimmel told brokers. “STC at one time was under one ownership, but the campus’ south building is now owned by a private group, and Cerner owns the north building, or LSIC.”

The rebranding effort includes brightly colored marketing materials and planned signage with the tagline, “The convergence of power, data, technology, people and community.” Current tenants include large data center and call center operations, with available space ranging from 5,000 to 147,000 square feet.

Recently added amenities include a remodeled cafeteria and employee lounge with flat-screen TVs, and a fitness track with “wayfinding corners” to track physical activity is in the works. Tenant signage options are available at LSIC’s various entrances, which are easily accessible to abundant surface parking.

“This campus has a bright future, and we have a lot of great space available here,” CushWake associate Leonard Popplewell said, adding that prospective tenants can receive smartphone-accessible 2D and 3D interactive conceptual floor plans tailored to their needs.

Jill McCarthy, vice president of corporate attraction for the Kansas City Area Development Council, told brokers that LSIC will be shared with site selectors and out-of-town companies scouting locations in the metro area.

“There’s a lot of project activity right now,” McCarthy said. “We are doing a lot to showcase buildings like this, and this type of product gives us something to talk about when speaking with clients and consultants.”

Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President and CEO Rick McDowell reminded brokers of incentive options available, proximity to a strong workforce, and local education system that includes an award-winning K-12 school district, community college and 4-year college. Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird thanked Cerner for its investment and presence in the community and reiterated the City’s pro-business environment.

CushWake is offering an incentive to brokers who bring the campus its first 20,000+ square foot deals: A free trip to Scottsdale or San Diego in the form of a $5,000 trip credit. The event included lunch catered by Third Street Social and guided tours.

For more information on LSIC, email suzanne.dimmel@cushwake.com or leonard.popplewell@cushwake.com.

Farm co-op plows ahead with plans for former Toys R Us building

The vacated Toys R Us Kansas City distribution facility in Lee’s Summit made national headlines when the retailer folded in early 2018. However, brisk demand for large, tenant-ready industrial space meant that the property sold quickly.

“The amount of interest from all over the country was quite impressive,” said Joe Accurso, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield. “The availability of a high-quality, fully racked, industrial building of this size doesn’t come along very often.”

More than two dozen potential buyers toured the 725,000-square foot facility at 420 SE Thompson Dr. near U.S. Hwy 50 and Mo. 291. Coincidentally the first company to come calling, Mid-States Distributing LLC, emerged as the winning bidder for the 41-acre property.

“This facility was an ideal fit for our rapidly growing company. When we learned of its availability, we knew the stars were aligning for us in a very special way,” said Mid-States President & CEO Tom Mahlke. “The Toys R Us situation, while very unfortunate for many, became our great fortune. We worked hard and aggressively because this was a great location geographically for our members.”

The leading farm and ranch retail store cooperative plans to invest more than $35 million in the distribution center, which will service a network of 39 member companies and nearly 700 retail locations in the U.S. and Canada. Mid-States will commence operations in the facility by the end of the year with immediate plans to hire between 30 and 35 employees within the next month to launch the operation.

Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President Rick McDowell said the high level of interest in the former Toys R Us space signals ongoing strength in the warehouse and distribution market and room for more activity in south Lee’s Summit.

“We had tremendous interest in that building,” McDowell said. “That leads me to believe that the addition of Mid-States will serve as a catalyst for ongoing business expansion and attraction in Lee’s Summit’s south side commerce corridor.”

Added Cushman & Wakefield’s Joe Accurso: “This property has created a wealth of opportunity for Lee’s Summit. I’m happy to see the building and area full of activity again.”

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.

Unity Village CEO casts vision for holistic health campus

Unity Village CEO Jim Blake shared a vision for a holistic health and fitness community with tiny homes and natural amenities on its sprawling campus near U.S. 50 and Colbern Road. 

“Why not build a huge hotel and conference center here?” Blake said. “We can attract speakers here if we had greater inventory, and the business community would have whatever it wants in a conference center next to a 9-hole golf course, walking trails and fishing lakes.”

Blake shared his vision with Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council leaders at a recent luncheon, adding that Unity would like to pursue collaborative public/private partnerships to build a convention center and resort. 

Although no official plans have been drafted, Blake envisions a healthy lifestyle community that is home to a first-of-its-kind holistic medical facility staffed by a renowned naturopathic physician. The community would offer summer youth programs that take advantage of miles of trails, stocked lakes, golf course and tennis courts as well as a new tiny home development.

“Nature is built on collaboration. Ecosystems are built on collaboration. Survival is building upon how communities collaborate. We have the opportunity to collaborate and build something powerful in this community rather than build something separately,” Blake said. 

Any new development would complement existing facilities, which include an all-new golf clubhouse with food and beverage, 50-room LEED-certified hotel and conference center, banquet and dining hall, fitness center, 2.5 miles of walking trails, fleet of GPS-enabled bicycles, a community garden and apple barn, as well as Starbuck’s on-campus coffee shop.

Blake’s vision is purely conceptual at this point. However, commercial development already is taking shape on campus and in the Summit Village development just south across Colbern Road at I-470 and 50 Highway. A new public road has been extended off the recently constructed Blue Parkway, and Summit Eye Center has completed construction on the first phase of its new medical office building.

At buildout, phase one of Summit Village will accommodate up to 500,000-square feet of office, medical office, hotel and other commercial users requiring between 5,000 to 50,000 square feet, according to Michael VanBuskirk, principal of Newmark Grubb Zimmer, which is handling development of the project on behalf of Unity Realty.

Preliminary approval is in place for an already constructed pad site adjacent to Summit Eye Center that will accommodate a 20,000-square foot building. In addition, nearby sites are available for sale or build-to-suit opportunities. Phases two and three of Summit Village include an additional 175 acres to accommodate over 1.5 million square feet of various mixed-use development for a  potential major headquarters site or rail-served flex industrial park.

Meanwhile, on-campus leasing activity is robust, with multiple spaces available. Current tenants include Almeda Labs, Healthcare Solutions Team, JSC Engineering, Transit Pros, Gardens at Unity Village, Unity Village Chapel, as well as Unity Worldwide ministries.   

“We started rolling out on-campus leasing about a year ago, and right now there is 30,000 square feet of third-party tenants already occupying space,” VanBuskirk said.

Lee's Summit rolls out red carpet for 100 economic developers

About 100 economic developers from throughout the Midwest toured the City of Lee's Summit as part of a weeklong "Economic Development 101" course study on Tuesday, April 24.

Sanctioned by the International Economic Development Council, the week-long Heartland Economic Development Course (HEDC) is offered through the University of Northern Iowa. The 2018 program was held at Adams Pointe Conference Center in Blue Springs, Mo.

Each year, the program gives students a chance to "See What Works" by highlighting a community that has successfully implemented critical components of community and economic development. On April 24, students toured Lee's Summit where they experienced a "walking case study" of effective infrastructure, land use, site development and reuse/downtown revitalization.

"This year's tour focused on Lee's Summit's successful educational ecosystem that includes the Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Academy, as well as Historic Downtown Lee's Summit," said LSEDC President Rick McDowell. "Business owners and civic leaders served as volunteer tour guides and offered insight into what has led to Lee's Summit's successful development efforts."

For more than a decade, the HEDC has offered intensive training in the basic concepts, information, methods and strategies of local economic development. Graduation from HEDC fulfills one of the education prerequisites for those who wish to obtain Certified Economic Development (CEcD) designation.

“Our purpose was to come and hear about what has been going on in Lee’s Summit both from a workforce development and historic redevelopment standpoint. It is a powerful success story in the economic development world,” said James Hoelscher, course director. “In addition, our students are also very interested in all of the mixed-use activity taking place near the Missouri Innovation Campus.”

Over the course of a week, students receive expert instruction on economic development fundamentals such as business retention/expansion, workforce development, entrepreneurship, marketing, business attraction, real estate development/reuse and financing. Attendees work in a wide range of organizations, including cities, chambers of commerce, economic development groups, neighborhood organizations and incentive granting agencies.