816 Diversions

New idea in play for arts space in downtown Lee’s Summit

The Lee’s Summit Arts Council has come up with a conceptual plan for the long-discussed outdoor arts space in the downtown area.

It calls for a stage, with lighting, configured so that it can be used for performances viewed from a festival area to the south, with room for 450 people, or as a grandstand for events on Third Street, such as parades or road races.

The property designated for the arts space is at 123 S.E. Third St. Part of it includes the vacant, city-owned Arnold Hall.

The arts council also set priorities for landscaping, including tree wells and pavers on the perimeter of the festival area. Alternatives include conduit under pavers and tree wells to eventually allow adding outlets for festival booths or holiday lighting, plus limited remodeling of Arnold Hall to provide restrooms. Visitors would not have access to the rest of the building.

The plan is a long way from being approved, however.

The Lee’s Summit City Council has asked architects to report a breakdown of expected costs.

At a recent meeting, council members raised questions about parking and the wisdom of using only part of Arnold Hall. Councilman Rob Binney suggested that the proposed sale of Arnold Hall be brought back for consideration.

Some also wondered whether the proposal would fall within the $600,000 budget set for the outdoor arts space.

“It’s a tight fit,” said Chris Heinz, an architect with Hollis + Miller, which is designing the space. “We’d have to be very careful moving forward.”

Councilman Derek Holland said he was “blown away” by the cost.

“I built a 5,000-square-foot building for less than this .... Six trees, pavers and a stage, it just seems excessive,” Holland said.