COMMENTARY

Downtown Lee’s Summit shows strong growth as new year begins

February 28, 2014 

RUSSELL WALKER

While growth certainly has been seen in the number of people visiting Downtown Lee’s Summit and attending its events and activities, its growth also is measured in the strength of the organization tasked with revitalization and historic preservation of the Downtown Central Business District.

Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, increased its staff, grew its budget and expanded its volunteer base as the New Year got under way. The reason for its growth directly correlates to the number of businesses, partners, organizations and residents engaging in Downtown Lee’s Summit. As more people who live and work outside of the Downtown Core begin to feel connected to the heart of our community, more business owners throughout the city are realizing their businesses and employees enjoy a high quality of life in part because of the revitalization efforts of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street.

A record number of people attended the annual Downtown Days festival in 2013, more than 100,000 in three days. In addition, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s second largest fundraiser, the Piccadilly Gala, sold out for the second straight year. As part of its efforts to draw more visitors and residents to Downtown Lee’s Summit, DLSMS organizes more than 25 events annually, including many that take place several times throughout the year, such as the Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market, Music in the Park, Fourth Fridays and business seminars for merchants. The Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market, which was voted the No. 1 farmers market in Missouri for the third consecutive year, not only saw a record number of vendors, but also many more residents shopping at the market each week.

Witnessing countless numbers of residents and visitors experiencing our award-winning Downtown, sometimes for the first time, reminds the DLSMS staff that while bringing events to the community is only part of our vision, these time-consuming activities continue to help fill our streets and strengthen our businesses.

With more than 40 eclectic specialty stores, dozens of dining and entertainment options, a range of services, including those at City Hall, Downtown Lee’s Summit stays at the forefront of where people want to do business — and where they want to shop, eat, live, work, walk and play.

One of the challenges Downtown Lee’s Summit faces as it expands throughout infill and redevelopment is maintaining a stable mix of businesses. Nationwide, the number of start-up retail stores and restaurants is declining; however, the demand for retail goods still remains high in Lee’s Summit. If a retail business closes in Downtown Lee’s Summit, the desire generally is to replace it with another retail store. This is not always the case, as various types of businesses are attracted to Downtown, and property owners are faced with trying to find the right niche to fill their spaces at the right price. Many of these niche businesses and opportunities for growth were indentified for Downtown Lee’s Summit in December 2010.

Three years ago, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street hired the Community Land Use and Economics Group to compile the “Business Development and Retention Strategy for Downtown Lee’s Summit.” Within the 78-page report, just a few of the main findings included:

Focus retail development activities in these categories: furniture and home furnishings; environmentally friendly products and services; dining/restaurants; music and entertainment; destination apparel/accessories; pet care; toys/games; healthcare/medical supplies; groceries/food stores.

Develop more Downtown Lee’s Summit housing.

Funnel new commercial and residential development nto the Downtown Core and periphery.

Encourage existing businesses to add new product lines.

Develop a small Downtown hotel.

Encourage businesses to develop new distribution channels.

Animate and enliven the district’s streets, shops and storefronts, bringing the arts out into the public realm.

Continue to seek stable funding for the Downtown revitalization and management initiative.

Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street believes its future growth relies on new economic development projects; expanded business niches; more downtown housing options; design standards education; marketing; and continued collaboration with its partners.

Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street always welcomes new partners to help realize its vision and to help with revitalization and historic preservation efforts. For more information, visit DowntownLS.org or call 816-246-6598. The “Business Development and Retention Strategy for Downtown Lee’s Summit” report also can be found on the website.

Trisha Drape is the Executive Director of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street.

Lee's Summit Journal is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service