Reaching the next level for downtown Lee’s Summit could include a boutique hotel and adding more shops such as a men’s clothing store, said a team of specialists visiting the city.
The team during its visit March 21 announced the organization would again be accredited. But the resource team from state and national Main Street also was meeting with members and city officials to help chart a course for the organization to continue its success.
Lee’s Summit Downtown Main Street Inc. continues to grow and make progress such as the recent adoption of downtown design standards by the city. It has done a great job but now needs to identify where to focus to attain the next level and “resources to keep the engine growing,” said Gayla Roten state director of Missouri Main Street Connection.
Missouri Main Street Connection is the umbrella group of Main Street chapters in Missouri and handles accreditation in the state for the national organization. Team members making the visit last week were Roten, Norma Miess, senior program officer for the National Main Street Center, Jim Thompson a business development specialist for Main Street Iowa and Bridgette Epple, executive director or Downtown Washington, Mo.
The team will send a written report to the Lee’s Summit organization, but did share some ideas at the community meeting at City Hall.
Thompson said this was his first visit to downtown Lee’s Summit.
“What a gem,” he said.
He said several trends stand out in Lee’s Summit.
Being a fast-growth city over the past two decades, the city has areas for “infill” development. There are 34,737 households, 25,235 of them families. The median age is 37.4.
“You are a town of young folks,” Thompson said.
The median income of Lee’s Summit is $76,000 compared to $44,415 in Missouri and $50,157 in the United States. That is higher than Johnson County, Kan., he said.
Thompson said the city has a potential of more than $1.085 billion in annual sales for retail and food and drink, but only $1.011 billion in local sales, so there’s about $74 million in “leakage” so there is opportunity for more local shops.
The team said a men’s clothing store or a specialty grocer downtown would fill a gap in services that could be supported by the Lee’s Summit economy. They also said there would be opportunity by expanding the farmers market.
Epple shared some her experience in Washington. That city used tax-increment financing to replace a concrete plant with townhomes. The city, Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Washington Inc. pooled resources to renovate an 1850’s building for a farmer’s market, which included apartments on upper floors.
It also added a boutique hotel with 14 rooms and a restaurant.
Drape said Lee’s Summit Downtown Main Street Inc. members have talked about the value of a boutique hotel.
“It’s finding the right property, at the right cost,” Drape said.
The same would be true of a specialty market or men’s clothing store.
Drape said her organization, once it’s gotten the written report, would take the ideas and decide which of the group’s committees would be charged with finding ways to move toward those goals.
She said was thrilled with maintaining its accreditation. It was a big job preparing the supporting documentation and accreditation isn’t a certainty.
Lee’s Summit is among about a half dozen Main Street groups in Missouri with accreditation, and one of those recently lost its accreditation, Drape said.
Main Street’s program recognizes several tiers for its members, the highest being accredited, and in Missouri there are more than 150 Main Street groups, including those in associate, affiliate and aspiring levels.