Lee's Summit Journal

Blighted Pine Tree Plaza could be spruced up

The vacant building which once held a grocery shows remnants of the former tenant in the faded facade. A developer is proposing to renovate the Pine Tree Plaza shopping center on Blue Parkway with help from a tax incentive.
The vacant building which once held a grocery shows remnants of the former tenant in the faded facade. A developer is proposing to renovate the Pine Tree Plaza shopping center on Blue Parkway with help from a tax incentive. rpulley@lsjournal.com

A Springfield area developer is planning to renovate the Pine Tree Plaza shopping center in Lee’s Summit. A grocery vacated the center, and the occupancy rate is low.

Pine Tree Plaza at Blue Parkway and Jefferson Street is at the north end of the major U.S. 50 interchange for Missouri 291 South being rebuilt by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

City officials included it in a redevelopment area called Envision Lee’s Summit, and have hopes of higher density housing and mixed use.

“I understand this is a corridor into your downtown and in need of repair,” said Trent Overhue, the new owner of the shopping center. He is asking the city for its support to form a Community Improvement District, which would cover the shopping center and would collect a 1 cent sales tax to help finance the renovations. It would be in addition to state and city sales taxes.

The total renovation is estimated at $9.3 million, and the CID as proposed would pay for about $2.6 million of the work.

The shopping center has been on the decline since its major anchor, Price Chopper, shifted its operations from an older store to a new store at Blue Parkway and Todd George Parkway. Pine Tree Plaza has been declared blighted and targeted for redevelopment by the city.

Overhue said it has about a 35 percent occupancy. His company, Northern State Investments LLC., recently purchased the property and it is talking with several national companies in retail, he said.

His plan is to subdivide the former grocery into three spaces for leasing, build a new façade for the entire shopping center and update the parking lot with LED lighting on existing light poles. The parking lot would have new landscaping and the CID would pay for certain other repairs, including a new roof and landscaping.

“We feel it has potential down the road to be redeveloped,” Overhue said. He said the new interchange and surrounding development gives it potential.

The City Council earlier this month approved an agreement in which the company is providing $10,000 to the city for consultants to analyze the financial feasibility of Overhue’s proposal. The city staff is recommending a shorter list of improvements to be paid for by the CID and is negotiating with the company. The difference is about $200,000. Councilman Rob Binney, who voted for the agreement, said he wasn’t supporting subsidies for the entire list requested.

“I start getting bothered when we put a roof on a private project,” Binney said.

Councilwoman Phyllis Edson asked whether the revamped shopping center would result in higher rental rates, driving out the current tenants.

Overhue said he doesn’t foresee a huge increase in square-footage rate.

Councilwoman Diane Forte said the issue is whether to live with an area that looks “terrible” for the next several years, but the ultimate improvements the council would like may not arrive for years. So the issue is whether to wait or not.

“In five years are we going to be happy, or in five years are we going to wish we hadn’t,” Forte said.

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