Opinion February 9, 2019

The preliminary development plan for the controversial Allera housing development has been denied by the city council. Citizens and representatives alike have been vocal in their opposition to the development: characterizing the 159 single-family lots as low-income, Section 8, a trailer park, and a grab for Millennial buyers, there was an outcry that this type of housing was not fit for Lee’s Summit, did not match the caliber expected here, or would set a precedent of increasingly narrower lot widths and higher density neighborhoods.

I can’t say that I think this particular spot would have been the best place for the Allera development or that it would be successful there. But I thought the concept was appealing and I appreciated that the developer worked to compromise on some of the concerns.

I’m certainly surprised at the vitriol that has been spewed at the idea that Lee’s Summit should consider an alternate type of housing to offer residents who aren’t seeking a 4- or 5-bedroom place, a 50-year-old house, or something with a price tag north of $300,000. Those are all great housing options and I’m glad that Lee’s Summit offers each of them. It would be nice if they offered something a little smaller and a little cheaper too.

I’m not a developer. Or a real estate professional. Or even a homeowner. I’m a 30-something Lee’s Summit North High School graduate, a Mizzou alumna, a business owner, and I live in an apartment outside this city. I spent my entire youth in Lee’s Summit and I still find myself within its city limits at least a few times a week. I don’t believe, as some have suggested, that I deserve to live in Lee’s Summit (or even to buy a house at all) just because I grew up here or because I’m hardworking.

The fact is, I haven’t prioritized buying my own home and that has been my choice. But I also don’t see a clear path to homeownership in my near future, and certainly not in Lee’s Summit. Like many my age, a mid-recession college graduation is bound to stunt my lifetime earnings, student loans continue to hang over my head, I gave up traditional benefits to work for myself, and I’m not particularly interested in a traditional suburban house with a big lawn.

If Lee’s Summit wants to encourage homeownership (and the property taxes that come with it) among a generation of young adults that will dwarf the Baby Boomers in size, they may want to be a little more flexible in what they deem appropriate for their city.

Mallory Herrmann. Owner of
and reporter for the Tribune