Zoom In: Lee's Summit's Downtown District

It's not a secret anymore.

For years, Lee's Summit's historic downtown district was a quaint little secret nestled in the heart of Lee's Summit. A nice place to visit on a sunny Saturday or to drive through during the Christmas season. That's not the case today. The secret has been out for more than a decade. 

Today, downtown Lee's Summit is a vibrant shopping district and nightlife hub, energized with music and cultural arts, particularly on the weekends. During the course of the next month, Link 2 Lee's Summit will provide some insights and perspective into downtown and the economic role it plays in the city. This will be the first of what we're calling our monthly "Zoom In" feature. It's our chance to look at the big picture and then hone in on some specific aspects of an important piece of our community's landscape. During the next few weeks, we'll hear from members of Downtown Lee's Summit Main Street, city and civic leaders, downtown business owners and others who can help us understand downtown's role and the opportunities for growth.

Back to that secret that's not a secret. If you need any evidence of the economic role downtown is playing in the city's progress, you really need look no further than the now eight-month old Community Improvement District 1-cent sales tax. During the first eight months of this special tax, a reported $170,000 has been generated through the CID sales tax. Later this month, we'll delve into the tax in more detail, but that initial number is a clear sign of the growing activity in downtown.

In the coming months, developers, business owners and local stakeholders will be excited to see what develops west of the railroad tracks on the site of the former post office. Development in this location will be a boon for all of downtown, but especially those operating on that side of the tracks. The western side of downtown has enjoyed plenty of buzz in recent months with the highly anticipated and successful openings of The W speakeasy and The Exit Room. Another recent opening has been both the subject of great excitement and sighs of relief as the prime corner of Third and Douglas streets no longer sits empty. Llywelyn's Irish Pub opened last week to large crowds and a stream of social media love about another restaurant and bar in a growing hub of metro night life.

The downtown district is home to a mix of veteran, main-stay retail and service businesses, expanding companies and shops, and exciting new start-ups — more than 150 businesses in all. Just the recipe any economic development professional would call for when cooking up a growth plan. According to many, one missing ingredient may be a lack of housing in the central business district. In upcoming posts, we'll hear from local experts about any needs for more housing and what that could look like, as well as other opportunities for growth and development in the district.

As always, with your Link 2 Lee's Summit, we encourage audience participation. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Or send us a note atconnect@link2leessummit.com and let us know what opportunities you see for growth in the downtown district or maybe a local expert we should hear from on the subject.