City office officials and developers in Lee’s Summit have long looked to thousands of acres of land owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for future expansion. The problem was that the church was never willing to sell the land – until now.
The church has owned 4,200 acres, or about 10 percent of the total area of the city, for three decades. It announced that it plans to sell 1,860 of those acres just south of downtown and along Interstate 470 to the north.
“We have large swaths of land in between some denser locations,” Mayor Bill Baird said. “Like on the north side, you have Lakewood and then you have the middle of the city and the Raintree area, and in between we have really large land parcels that never got developed.”
Those 4,200 acres are roughly two-thirds the size of neighboring Raytown or all of Prairie Village. The Mormon Church’s real-estate subsidiary Suburban Land Reserve announced it is listing 1,860 of those acres through Newmark Zimmer. Lee’s Summit officials already had the land in its master plans for commercial, industrial residential uses.
“This is city planning at its finest, because we aren’t working around developments that are already in place,” Baird said. “Basically it’s a clean slate and we get to do economic development in the best way possible. So it’s a very unique opportunity given the size of the properties.”
Development is expected to add thousands of jobs and tens of thousands of new residents. “The pros, we would have more jobs, more housing,” resident Angela Streker said. “The cons, we will lose the nature that we are used to seeing; the deer and all the other wildlife.”
The church still owns more than 2,300 acres in Lee’s Summit and many other lots, large and small, in Missouri, the faith’s former and future Zion, according to the “Salt Lake City Tribune.” The church has temples Kansas City and St. Louis, with plans for a third, in Springfield.