Downtown residential project getting closer to fruition

The debates and discussions concerning the addition of residential development in downtown Lee's Summit has gone on for years. Now, nearly 10 years after its inclusion in the Downtown Master Plan, one area developer is looking to bring such a project to fruition.

Jim Harpool, a veteran area developer and commercial realtor, has partnered with Yarco-Devco, LLC to purchase the former United States Postal Service property located on Market Street for redevelopment into a multi-family residential project, currently dubbed Strother Lofts. A public hearing concerning the developer's request to rezone the approximately 1.36 acre lot from CP-2 (Planned Community Commercial) and TNZ (Transitional Neighborhood Zone) to PMIX (Planned Mixed Use) is on the agenda for this week's City Council meeting beginning at 6:15 p.m. at City Hall.

"We're very excited about this project," Harpool said. "About a decade ago, I was actually involved in the development of the Downtown Master Plan and we were talking about adding residential to the downtown area then. Really, since then I've been waiting and looking for the right opportunity to present itself. With this project, we feel like we're coming in at the right cycle. There is a tremendous opportunity right now for residential development in downtown Lee's Summit. The one thing the downtown district needs right now is more people living there. More people living there brings more business, new businesses, more retail and more restaurant demand. This is part of a cycle than can keep growing on itself."

According to Harpool and documents included with the agenda for Thursday's Council meeting, Strother Lofts conceptual development plan proposes a four-story building with approximately 125  units of studio, one-bedroom, one-bedroom plus den and two-bedroom units. In addition to the 144,520 square-foot residential development, the group is also proposing a parking garage located on the existing public parking lot north of the development. Harpool said the garage will have approximately 300 spaces and will provide parking for both the public and Strother Lofts residents.

Thursday's hearing is part of process for the development company as they finish a due diligence and entitlements process in anticipation of an April 25 closing date with the Postal Service. A purchase price for the property has not been made public. It is anticipated the developers will be seeking a LCRA tax abatement, allowing for a 10-year recapture of abatements on the assessed value of the property today and the value at the time of project completion. Harpool said he expects this to be the only request made for public funding of the development.

While Thursday's hearing marks an early start to the development process, Harpool said he expects this project to move fairly quickly. 

"We would hope that we can get through the zoning process, then come back to the city with a full package for design and details in a pretty short time," he said. "We would hope that we can get through that process in another two-to-three months. And then, depending on the winter, we could conceivably start construction either late this year or early next. Construction should take 12-14 months for us."