Lee's Summit Journal

New apartment complex to settle into downtown Lee’s Summit

Developers plan to preserve the original 1922 structure from the church as the “front door” and leasing office for the development.
Developers plan to preserve the original 1922 structure from the church as the “front door” and leasing office for the development.

The building that has been home to a church since its construction in 1922 is about to serve another purpose.

The downtown campus of the Summit Church, associated with the United Methodist denomination, will host its last worship service on Sunday, April 28. The congregation will move to the second location the church built in 2017 at Northwest Chipman Road and View High Drive.

This Sunday’s final service downtown will precede the completion of the sale of the property and anticipated redevelopment of the site into a downtown apartment complex at 114 S.E. Douglas St. The church sold the property to developers at Cityscape Residential for $2.8 million.

Developers are working with Lee’s Summit city leaders on approvals to build a 276 unit high-end apartment complex on the property, which is expected to have a $52 million price tag.

It will be geared towards residents who are looking for walkability and easy access to the amenities in downtown Lee’s Summit. The property will include a new parking garage for residents and the preservation of the original 1922 structure from the church as the “front door” and leasing office for the development.

Cityscape Residential has built other apartment communities at Longview and Summit Ridge. It is currently working on the construction of the Meridan at View High Drive apartment complex.

The project has received support from Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, as it will fill a gap for housing in the area. The group’s executive director, Donnie Rodgers Jr., says merchants see a direct value in having more people living downtown.

“The economic impact will help us continue to grow and support the business mix we love down here already,” Rodgers said. “We get requests for additional housing all the time. The (new apartments) answer a huge need we see.”

The Lee’s Summit City Council also has given initial approval for Tax Increment Financing and sales tax exemption on construction materials for the proposed apartment complex. The TIF will pay for the parking garage at the site, which is required by city statute, and accounts for about $8 million of the expense to the project.

This is the first time Lee’s Summit has offered a TIF plan for an apartment complex. Mayor Bill Baird explains the reasons TIF made sense in this circumstance. First, the property, as a church site, was tax-exempt before. The city and school district were not getting any property tax revenue from the site under that designation. They will now be getting more than before, even with TIF in place.

Also, TIF made the required construction of covered parking for residents financially feasible for the developer. Without it, this plan could not move forward.

Baird says he voted for the project because it provides a resource for the downtown businesses and brings residential density to the area.

“With density, the walkability from the apartments will help shore up the mom and pop shops that make our downtown area so special, as well as helping the restaurants stay strong throughout the year,” Baird said. “It increases sales tax revenues. It’s a big commercial driver, and it will help us make the gem which is our downtown area even brighter.”

Baird believes the developer, Jim Thomas from Cityscape Residential, has done a great job in keeping the local residents and organizations with concerns involved in the project.

“From the beginning he was very open he worked on it with regard to the community, and the feedback he received. I believe developers should follow the lead of this developer in regards to working with the community,” Baird said.

Developers had numerous meetings with city planners and local groups interested in the project including work with the historical society to find a way to keep the 1922 church building as a landmark for the area.

“It’s not been marked as a historic building, but it’s historic for us. It has a rich history there,” Baird said.

While there has been widespread support from the project, some residents were concerned about increased traffic and sewer usage concerns. Baird says the city department heads and administrators are all committed to making sure the project is safe and the downtown infrastructure is sound as it moves forward. City council will hear a second reading of the ordinance at a future meeting.

Church says goodbye

The final worship service at the Summit Downtown location is scheduled for 11:15 a.m., Sunday. After the service, the church will host an open house at the new location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for people who have attended services only downtown to see where they will now be able to worship.

The $2.8 million the church received for the sale of the downtown property will go to pay for the addition of office space and a chapel at the Northwest Chipman Road and View High Drive location. This will allow the church to continue traditional worship services at their new location.

Summit Church Administrator Robin Dawson says Sunday’s ceremony is a time to remember and celebrate.

“That’s a worship style still used at this church. Some people like that style and we have a commitment to keep that style. We’re fortunate we are able to offer a high quality version of both traditional and contemporary styles of worship,” Dawson said.

“We will be celebrating the rich history of the church at that service. It’s a celebration of all the good things that have happened in that space.”