LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - Lee’s Summit may be on the fringe of winning another national award for its thriving downtown, which would be its second since 2010. However, this prize would also give the city $25,000.
The competition is being organized through Independent We Stand, a national organization that supports the revitalization and continuing support of ‘Main Streets’ throughout the United States. Lee’s Summit’s thriving downtown has been rated within the nation’s top 25. Now there’s open voting through May 28 to determine the winner.
"When you shop local and spend local and dine local that really makes your community stronger from the inside and that's really why we've gotten the success I think we've gotten today,” said Lee’s Summit City Council member Rob Binney.
The councilman said that other cities from around the country have been taking notes after seeing the revitalization of Lee’s Summit’s downtown.
"It all started when a group of merchants got together and formed a merchant association - later became Downtown Main Street as we know it today,” said Binney. "There were a lot of empty store fronts. There was probably 30 or 40 percent vacancy."
That deterioration peaked in the 80s. But the city has worked very hard since that time to turn things around. Now, they say they have no vacancies left in the downtown corridor.
"It's a family-friendly environment. It's kind of small town America, it's what you envision when you think of downtowns,” said Donnie Rodgers, executive director of Lee's Summit Downtown Main Street. "We've got everything rented that could be rented right now."
And a Community Improvement District one-cent sales tax implemented last year has continued to keep the momentum trending upward. It’s just another reason business owners in the downtown area continue to invest in the area.
"Our business has grown, enough when we built the building in 2013, and it's just continued to grow from that point,” said Bryan King, owner of The Stanley and The Aspen Room.