Happy Valley plans $230 million development in west Lee’s Summit

rpulley@lsjournal.comJanuary 17, 2014 

A new soccer complex, part of a $230 million mixed-use project in Lee’s Summit could be financially feasible, according to reports prepared by consultants hired to analyze the proposal.

Lee’s Summit and businessman Flip Short about a year ago signed a pre-development agreement with the city for the project at the northeast corner of View High Drive and Interstate 470.

Short’s company, Happy Valley Properties LLC., was to present an update on the project to the City Council at a work session. It was scheduled to start after the Journal’s deadline.

The working name for the development is View High Green.

“I am blown away by the amount of progress we’ve made and the ability to attract well-known names in the Kansas City area, if not in the United States,” Short said.

RED Legacy, working on retail, NorthPoint Development is working on the apartments and BNMI is doing design work, and Global Sports Inc. will be part of the project. GSI schedules soccer tournaments, sports tours and is a travel agency.

The plan as envisioned so far includes 15 synthetic turf soccer fields with a clubhouse, 300 upscale apartments and an entertainment district, with primarily restaurants and bars, on lower levels, and with office space on second floor. It could include a bowling center or movie theater. A 30,000 square-foot grocery is planned. It would include a 200-room hotel.

Bill Brown, a member of the development team, said the project developers looked at the Overland Park Soccer Complex and improved on it.

“Soccer would be a major driver here, along with lacrosse, and rugby as well,” Brown said.

Brown said the Lee’s Summit project would be the only one in the nation where the players, coaches and family could walk to restaurants or entertainment when not playing in tournaments without driving to another location.

The complex would be host for league play and tournaments about 21 weekends each year, he said. Brown said while there would be some competition, there also would be opportunity jointly run national tournaments.

“It would be a draw from both coasts,” Brown said. “We’re looking at a lot of tourism dollars.”

The hotel during the week would serve business travelers and larger events that currently don’t have suitable location in Lee’s Summit. Even the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce has had to go outside the city to rooms for bigger events.

A market study by HVS, a Chicago firm that provides consulting for convention, sports and entertainment facilities, said “Overall, the market surrounding the proposed sports complex is capable of supporting its development and operation...much of the demand for weekday training and league play would come from Lee’s Summit.”

RERC said that big box stores at Pryor Road would make more of that kind of development difficult, but there is opportunity for smaller retail and restaurants and the grocery.

Currently there are many Lee’s Summit and eastern Jackson County youth who join teams playing in Overland Park, said Brown and Will Coates, who is president of Billy Goat Industries Inc. whose company sponsors an elite youth soccer-club.

Coates said there isn’t enough soccer fields in the area to meet the demand.

Coates said the team, Billy Goat FC, has about 30 players, most from Lee’s Summit, who have to go to Overland Park to practice, at nights, between 9:30 and 11 p.m. at night.

The team travels to Las Vegas, Ohio, Indiana, Chicago, Milwaukee, Little Rock, all over to compete in tournaments.

He said high-level teams will travel to several tournaments in the spring, and several more in the fall. They spend lots of money on travel and lodging.

“It would be great if we could play three of those tournaments here,” Coates said.

The soccer complex sits in a valley alongside the Little Blue River, part of 80 acres owned by Lee’s Summit, surrounded by wooded bluffs.

Brown said the apartments and businesses would be expected to be attractive to young professionals in the area, like the 1,200 employees for the Cerner complex being built about five miles away on the former Bannister Mall site.

There would be sustainable-development regulations for developers within the project, encouraging use of geothermal, solar and possibly wind energy for power and energy efficient buildings.

Aggregate for building utility lines, concrete and asphalt in the project would be provided by the Family Ranch project farther east, where Short intends to mine rock.

“You’re clearing a brownfield, moving (the rock) with almost no transportation costs, to supply aggregate for the project” Brown said

The team is working on private equity partners in the project. Brown said the city would need to participate in financing, but exactly what that package would look like is still being determined, Brown said.

“We are going to need the city, we do see a public/private partnership,” Brown said. “You can’t make it work without city participation.”

Short said the plan includes revenue sharing with the city after the complex is in operation, above sales and property taxes and beyond repaying any tax-increment financing.

“We are actually will have the city receive money back,” Short said. “We want them to participate in revenue sharing forever.”

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