Summit Place could lead to future projects in Lee’s Summit

rpulley@lsjournal.comMay 23, 2014 

The Summit Place shopping center, if it gets final approval, could lead to more projects in the area of U.S. 50 and Chipman Road.

The Lee’s Summit City Council at its May 15 meeting approved expanding the area of a tax increment financing district to include the store’s site.

Councilman Allan Gray, at that meeting, asked if Summit Place contributed to a bigger vision for the area.

City Manager Steve Arbo ventured the idea of extending the tax increment financing district even farther to take in land just west of Pryor Road and south of Interstate 470.

That area has a high-voltage electric line running diagonal across several tracts, including some property owned by RED Development, which makes that land hard to develop, regardless of it’s good location, Arbo said.

The TIF could be used to finance relocating those overhead power lines. That would require future amendments and planning.

Arbo said having retail nearby to large employment centers like Summit Technology Center will help insure their long-term success.

Arbo said the city has invested $40 million in city, state and federal money for highway interchanges to serve the area, so it should take steps it can to promote development. Arbo said that a pure retail area has a shelf-life, mentioning the demise of Bannister Mall and others.

But with the Summit Technology Campus nearby and other strong-looking prospects in the future, he supported the Summit Place plan, even with $18.5 million of incentives for the $72.8 million project.

He noted he’d objected to other proposed TIFs like City Walk and one for Adesa, which were never approved.

“I’m not a city manager that says yes to all TIFs,” Arbo said.

Colleen Sliffe, vice president of real estate services for Carrow Real Estate Services, testified in favor of Summit Place, saying the developments would strengthen the area and help her keep tenants in the large Summit Technology Campus.

“It only increases the value of the area this campus is in,” Sliffe said in an interview. “We believe the most recent shopping centers, especially Summit Fair, have been a benefit to our 5,000 employees.”

Summit Technology Campus now belongs to a private investor and is not part of Townsend Capital, she said.

Sliffe said RED Development was good to work with during Summit Fair’s construction. Building the third shopping center will require some additional road work and a gate for the campus, Sliffe said, but it will benefit from added traffic signals.

She said employees at the campus like being able to walk to different restaurants and shopping in Summit Fair and the third center will increase their choices.

Steve Rich, of Townsend Capital, said obviously he’s happy the council at least took the first step in approving the project. Townsend Capital is a partner in RED Development on the project by providing 46 acres for the shopping center.

Rich predicts it will make further development of Townsend property in Lee’s Summit easier.

Rich said the approval of Summit Place is a keystone for those projects because Ward Road and storm water improvements that will be paid for by the tax-increment financing and community improvement districts.

“They’re very expensive on a site of that magnitude,” Rich said.

If they’re in place, it makes other future projects more affordable.

“I’m excited about it,” Rich said. “Activity breeds activity is a well-known real estate premise, people like to be where things are happening.”

Townsend will still have about 130 developable acres north of Chipman Road if Summit Place is built.

Near the Summit Place project, Rich is actively working on several projects, which have strong prospects, but aren’t final.

“I’m never certain until the shovel is in the ground,” he said.

They are:

150,000-square-foot Missouri Innovation Campus by the University of Central Missouri and Lee’s Summit R-7 School District

a 90 to 110 room hotel

a “higher-end” apartment complex of about 300 units

There have been early talks with St. Luke’s Hospital for a medical office building, Rich said, and also could be some development of other retail along Chipman Road.

Rich said that the Missouri Innovation Campus also presents an opportunity to ask companies to create satellite offices where students there can work after attending their classes.

The UMC project is to fast-track high school and college students to technical degrees, while they are working part-time in their fields.

“We see a lot of different possibilities,” Rich said.

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