Through “$1 Billion and Rising” Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has featured completed projects across Missouri. These projects have won awards at Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference, been recorded in Missouri Main Street communities’ quarterly economic data submitted to MMSC, developed into reports by the local programs to showcase their impact, and transformed their downtown in numerous ways from their local economies to downtown offerings. Now to conclude “$1 Billion and Rising,” we will focus on the rising future Missouri Main Street sees in our communities as they continue to champion their Main Streets from the old historic buildings to the businesses that inhabit them and people who live in and visit downtown.
Elevate 114 is an ongoing large-scale housing development that is located at 114 NE Douglas St. in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. This property spans a full city block encompassing four acres, which became vacant after the Methodist church moved to another site a few miles away about five years ago. Ryan Adams, Vice President of Cityscape Residential and lead on this development remarked, “[We saw this] as an opportunity to bring some class A, upper-end apartments to the downtown Lee’s Summit area.” To put it into context, Donnie Rodgers, Executive Director of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street remarked on the impact of this project coming to Lee’s Summit as, “[ending] a decade long drought of new apartment development.” While many would see new housing coming downtown as a good thing since more people living in an area will raise the tax base and grow the economy, there was some initial hesitancy in the community that took partnerships and rallying community members to make this happen. This community collaboration with Cityscape and Elevate 114 representative is what forged the community buy-in and garnered the city’s approval as Adams adds:
“The retailer association and downtown business owners were hugely supportive… [and] we met with Donnie and his group early on… and [were] involved in our city planning commission and zoning meetings. It’s a great relationship. One of the best experiences with Main Street because of the level of vested interest from all the local owners.”
While the development is in the middle of construction, the effort the community put in to support bringing this development to Downtown Lee’s Summit is starting to see its returns as Elevate 114 is already welcoming residents into downtown with the completed apartments buildings. The renovated church houses the leasing office and amenities which add to the uniqueness of this property and draws tenants in as construction work continues on the rest of the apartment buildings. There are major benefits to having a growth in population downtown as Rodgers adds:
“The new residents bring a breath of fresh air… they are at the farmers market and walking their dogs down 3rd Street. It’s just great to have. We estimate that the new residents will generate an additional $5 million in taxable revenue for the district.”
The returns to the community are no accident. This is the economic outcome from a community coming together to support the development of housing, which had been identified as a need in the community. Coupled with the natural economic outcome of more residents living downtown, which at this point has increased by 400 according to estimates by Downtown Lee’s Summit, Elevate 114 has a commitment to the community. Craig Ladines, the Property Manager of Elevate 114 shared, “This is our community. One of [our] main goals in being involved in the neighborhood is to collaborate with local businesses and thank them for the support they have shown us.” This symbiotic relationship between development and downtown is exactly how sustainable development is supposed to go. As the Main Street district grows and strengthens, there becomes more vibrant and attractive places for development and as development comes to Main Street, there are more resources, both financially and with increased residents, to strengthen the community, district, and organization. Ridgers adds to this sentiment by stating, “This has proven downtown as a vibrant place [and shows that Elevate 114] saw the strength we had here in downtown Lee’s Summit with our restaurants and retail and knew this was a community ripe and ready.”
This development wasn’t recorded in Downtown Lee’s Summit quarterly data submitted before the end of 2020 which resulted in MMSC’s network of local Main Street communities reporting $1 billion in public and private investment raised in 15 years, but has started to be reported as the project is nearing its completion. Projects are reported in economic data submissions to MMSC during the quarter when the project has been completed, with multi stage projects like this development reporting data each quarter a stage is completed. The gravity of this development is summed up by Rodgers as, “upon the completion of the project the over $50 million investment… [will be] the largest single private investment we have seen in downtown.”
Local Missouri Main Street communities will continue to see development and investment in their downtown further contributing to “$1 Billion & Rising.”