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Posted 20 Jun 2001   For week ended June 22, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 19Jun01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Church's Kansas City Area Land Has Developers Waiting

LEE'S SUMMIT, MISSOURI -- An article in this week's Kansas City Business Journal shows that developers are frustrated waiting for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to develop land it owns near Lee's Summit, just outside of Kansas City in Eastern Jackson County, Missouri. The Church has refused to sell the land or even hint about its plans there. The property in question, some 8,000 acres, is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and its value is increasing as the city improves access to the area and as nearby development increases. However, the article doesn't mention the Church's history in Jackson County or the beliefs of Church members about that portion of Missouri.

One area real estate agent, Lloyd Hill, says he long ago gave up trying to interest the LDS Church in selling even a small piece of the land, which is located east of interstate I-470 and west of Fleming Park. "It's been years since I approached the church," Hill said. "They don't want to sell. I'd might as well just drive around them." The land stretches roughly from Colbern Road to the south to Woods Chapel Road to the north, and is located about 10 miles southeast of Independence, Missouri.

The Church is one of the largest landowners in the area, but local planning officials say the Church has not approached them about development plans. According to Pete Kenney, a marketing executive with real estate firm J. D. Reece, residential property in the area currently sells for $20,000 an acre, and commercial-use property sells for $100,000 to as much as $250,000 an acre. At those rates, the Church's property is currently worth at least $160 million, and is probably worth much more.

This is not the only property that the Church owns in the Kansas City area. In addition to property associated with Mormon historical sites across northern Missouri, the Church is actively developing property known as Shoal Creek Valley, located northeast of Kansas City. But that development is 1,700 acres, less than 1/4 the size of the Lee's Summit property.

The property's physical location is what drives interest in it from developers and local government officials, at least some of whom are anxious that the land be developed. "No one seems to know the long-term plans of the church regarding this land," Kenney said. "However, it is clear that if some or all of it is released to the public, it will greatly stimulate the local economy and provide opportunities for growth of every sort." Lee's Summit director of planning and development, Bob McKay, agrees, "The potential is much greater for quicker development on that piece of land," McKay said. "It's a mixed-use development waiting to happen. [But] we have not yet been approached by the church about any development activity."

City officials assume that the Church plans to develop the land and are actively looking for the Church to act. "The city wants to see development happen," said McKay. "This is a prime piece of ground in our long-range plan, especially because it is so visible from I-470." Kenney agrees, "The table is being set as we speak, as new schools and roads are being built," Kenney said. "Ward Boulevard is ready, new commercial growth is under way, and 150 Highway and Scherer Parkway soon will create more opportunities. With the vast majority of undeveloped land in the southwest being owned by the Mormon church, it is plain to see how important and vital it is to open things up for development."

But McKay recognizes that the Church will only act when it is ready. "We know development is coming," McKay said. "It's just a matter of when, what type and what amount. They are going to allow development to take place when their time frame is met." The City just doesn't know what that time frame is.


Mormon church's land has potential for Lee's Summit
Kansas City MO Business Journal 18Jun01 B1
By Alan Goforth: Contributing Writer

See also:

LDS Group Plans Major, Innovative Kansas City Development

LDS Developer's 'New Urban' Development Approval Expected Today


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