By Krista Klaus

A panel of public and private sector leaders provided an overview of the current Kansas City commercial real estate market on November 8, 2018 and offered insight into how Lee’s Summit can gain traction in the current red-hot industrial market.

“Our goal was to provide an overview of the current industrial market while also giving our guests some insight into the Lee’s Summit market and the development approach and process that we take here,” said LSEDC President Rick McDowell, who moderated the event held at Emaline Ballroom. “Hopefully our discussion offered a little something for everyone.”

Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort kicked off the discussion with a snapshot of the KC industrial market, noting that speculative warehouse and distribution development has been driving activity over the past five years with over 25 million square feet constructed.

“We are seeing more manufacturing activity in the pipeline,” Gutierrez said, with much of the leads coming from automobile suppliers, food companies and precision and heavy manufacturing. “There are numerous deals right on the edge, and overall, activity is great in the industrial space.”

Gutierrez said speed to market is the key to winning expansion and attraction projects.

“If you don’t have what we call vertical ready sites with zoning and city approvals and everything done, or if you don’t have a spec product you are overlooked because they don’t have time to wait for a build,” he added, citing’s recent expansion in KCK that was completed inside of three months.

Rob Holland, associate vice president for Cushman & Wakefield, pointed to a recent Lee’s Summit building sale on the City’s south side. The tenant-ready building drew interest from dozens of companies and sold quickly.

“It sold fast and sold for more money than we thought it was going to bring so that tells us what kind of demand you will see if you have the product here in Lee’s Summit,” Holland said.

Mike Lally, vice president of Olsson Associates, reiterated the importance of having shovel-ready sites, adding that communities who have done their due diligence and have sites prepared end up winning the deals. On the flip side, the burden is on developers and partners to get familiar with a community’s players and process.

“You can easily fall behind 30-60-90 days because you haven’t positioned the project well to make it through the process,” Lally said. “So understanding the local process is very important. We know the game well, and that’s why we are able to execute on behalf of our clients.”

Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird updated guests on the City’s strategic plan process and overall development philosophy and approach.

“We want to use the strategic plan process to align everybody’s vision,” Baird said. “I urge you to get involved as we begin this effort. We have an exciting time ahead in 2019 and a big part of that is everybody collaborating and we need new leaders in the future to carry this forward.”

A decade ago, Lee’s Summit frequently lost deals because the City development process was cumbersome. Now the City has an approved Economic Development policy and newly streamlined concierge Development Center, all in an effort to increase responsiveness and speed to market.

“Lee’s Summit’s economic development policy is the result of collaboration with the Lee’s Summit EDC,” City Manager Steve Arbo said. “We have been making significant investments to the transportation system throughout the City so we can begin to attract investors to targeted development areas.”