2010 GAMSA Semifinalist Lee's Summit, Missouri

Several key accomplishments highlight the work of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, Inc. (DLSMS). First, the "Vision of the Heart Study," completed in 1993, recommended façade/building and streetscape improvements. To achieve those goals, the DLSMS board of directors and downtown merchants rallied support for a community-wide bond issue, which passed with 68 percent approval. The $13.5 million project replaced antiquated utilities and added wider sidewalks, trees, and pedestrian street lighting. DLSMS also played an integral role during construction with its "diggin.it" initiative, a comprehensive public information campaign to provide merchants and the public with construction updates. Finally, DLSMS leadership among key downtown stakeholders led to the development and implementation of the Old Lee’s Summit Development Master Plan. DLSMS has implemented more than 30 action items, including a downtown banner program, hospitality training for front-line employees, business retention activities, wayfinding signage, cross-promotion with other Amtrak communities, brand development, and a series of tax credit seminars to encourage reinvestment in the district.

The Numbers

Population: 90,000
Net number of new jobs: 151
Net number of new businesses: 55
Number of building rehabilitations: 53
Number of new buildings: 9
Vacancy rate when the program began: 18%
Vacancy rate today: 13%
Dollar amount of public investment: $44,800,000
Dollar amount of private investment: $20,600,000

In Their Own Words

Despite the rapid growth of Lee’s Summit, DLSMS, the city, and other organizations have led successful revitalization efforts in the downtown core. A population explosion of 65,000 people over the past 25 years has been a major challenge for the community, but downtown has maintained its small-town charm and preservation ethic. While thousands of homes and subdivisions have been built, historic downtown neighborhoods have thrived because downtown residents were determined to revitalize their own homes and neighborhoods while supporting downtown revitalization efforts. The strength of these neighborhoods contributes to downtown's success. The $13.5 million downtown streetscape construction project and $18 million city hall and public parking garage clearly demonstrated commitments by the mayor, city council, and citizens to make downtown the heart of our community. This public investment has spurred more than $2 million in private investment just in the last few years. Twenty new businesses, as well as 18 new lofts, opened during the 18-month construction period alone. Our mayor has been actively engaged in recent discussions about regional transit options in and around the Kansas City metropolitan area. As an early railroad community, Lee’s Summit and its downtown are integral to the success of these plans. Our district is a winner because of broad-based public and private support and an extraordinary commitment to keeping downtown the heart and soul of our city.