Park Place looks to develop in town

rpulley@lsjournal.comSeptember 13, 2013 

Lee’s Summit leaders got their first glimpse of conceptual plans for a new 185-unit apartment building downtown, across from City Hall on the east side of Green Street.

The developers of Park Place in Leawood, Kan., had invited them there on Sept. 10 to see the completed hotel, multistory retail and office buildings and the residential projects now under construction, to impress them with the quality and success of that project.

Melanie Mann, a partner in Park Place, said the Lee’s Summit project won’t look like the project in Leawood.

She said she has had a summer home for 18 years at Lake Lotawana and has gone to Lee’s Summit’s downtown many times and recognized its special quality. She said the company wanted to make early contacts to help create the right plan for Lee’s Summit.

“We’re very collaborative, we believe in teamwork, and that’s how these projects get built,” she said.

Mann and her partner Jeff Alpert said Lee’s Summit’s distinctive downtown already provides the ambiance that can make the apartments successful.

Mayor Randy Rhoads, council members Rob Binney, Kathy Hofmann and Dave Mosby and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Inc., the Lee’s Summit School District and Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council attended the tour.

The early concept is for a four-story apartment building, built around an interior parking structure, also surrounding a courtyard that would include a pool. It would include studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments.

It’s value would be at least $25 million, he said. The Ice House, an historic building, would be intact on Green Street, and adapted for reuse, with apartments behind and next to it. There is a possibility of extending the project along Green Street to Third for retail property, but the apartments are the initial plan.

When the Park Place team started working on the 34-acre site in Leawood, Alpert said, they were trying to find ways for connectivity to create a 24/7-atmosphere that would be appealing to residents and commercial enterprises.

They initially were to be condominiums, but the real estate crash undermined that plan. Rents at Park Place will be between $1,100 and about $2,000, depending on the floor plan and number of bedrooms.

That prompted some Lee’s Summit leaders, like Bill Brown, a member of the LSEDC, and Hofmann, to ask whether Lee’s Summit market could support a similar project.

Alpert said that is one reason why the project will need help with tax incentives through the Lee’s Summit Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority. The land will need some environmental remediation and a major storm sewer needs relocation.

The largest expense causing a request for tax incentives is the plan for the parking structure. Surface parking would cost $3,000 to $4,000 a space, while a parking structure would be $15,000 to $20,000 per space.

To get the density desired, the project has to build skyward, including the parking structure.

The developers said they hoped the about two-dozen leaders who had the tour would support them and explain it to the community.

City Manager Steve Arbo said the next steps would be the city and developer to complete financial studies and determine the incentives that will be needed. The final plan will have to support costs of the development, plus those of city services, he said, and be a collaboration between the parties keeping in mind effects on the community, such as the school district.

“We won’t go there if someone gets hammered in the process,” Arbo said.

Brown said it is an exciting project and wondered if there would be opportunities for other projects in Lee’s Summit if this one is built.

“We’re open for business,” Mann said.

Alpert said their project would “prove” the market in Lee’s Summit. He predicted that over time it could lead to additional projects (by other companies or themselves) and improved real estate values downtown.

He envisions residents looking down from balconies to watch festivals on Green Street, or walking to downtown shops and restaurants. He said he City Hall Plaza would be a door front attractive to tenants.

“It needs development across the street that’s worthy of what you have there (at City Hall),” Alpert said. “It can’t be duplicated, what you have in Lee’s Summit. We can’t get this stuff in a conventional suburban development.”

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