Brokers and Developers: Lee’s Summit poised for peak altitude

EDC StaffWhat's Happening

 The region’s leading developers, brokers and attorneys offered a birds’ eye view into the Eastern Jackson County commercial real estate market on Tuesday, April 11, inside Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport’s Hangar One.

Surrounded by business aircraft and aviation mechanical equipment, panelists tackled everything from incentives to infrastructure to industrial speculative development, while updating various mixed-use and multifamily projects taking shape in Lee’s Summit and Eastern Jackson County.

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.”

For Lee’s Summit, all signs point to continued growth with population expected to reach 100,000 by 2020 and new single-family building permits 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.

“That success gave us encouragement to start a second multifamily project (Summit Square), near US 50 and I-470,” Pomerenke said.

With $1 billion in public and private investment in 2015-2016, Lee’s Summit appears to be prepared for takeoff. However, panelists cautioned that rising construction costs and availability of incentives could create headwinds for future development of office and industrial space.

“There are a lot of opportunities in Jackson County and a lot of properties that 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.

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

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.

Additional panelists at the event presented by MetroWireMedia included Ron Baker, Saint Luke’s East Hospital CEO. Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads served as emcee, and John Lovell III, Cobbs Allen risk consultant, moderated the event.

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