Last week, a six-year-long process took a big tangible step. The groundbreaking for the first phase of Paragon Star's 130-acre site took place at Interstate 470 and View High Drive in Lee's Summit.
“It’s fun having these trucks on the property and knowing that we’re going to be taking down trees. We are excited to see the work finally getting done,” developer Flip Short stated. “It is beyond satisfying to know the group got together six years ago and it actually the kickoff day to get things done. It is kind of surreal.”
Short wanted to make sure everyone knew, when people drive by on 470 they may not see a lot of activity for awhile. “The work on the field will be on the other side of those trees,” Short said gesturing behind the equipment. “We will get drones and pictures and keep people updated but they won’t see a lot of activity at first.”
Paragon Star is a project that will eventually contain 10 multi-use turf soccer fields, recreation, retail, office space, apartments, a hotel, bars and restaurants. The trails will connect to the Little Blue Trace and the Rock Island Corridor Trail, and ultimately to the Katy Trail, making a statewide trail. When all the phases are complete there could be as much as 400 million invested in the area.
Setting it apart
There are quite a few very good soccer complexes around the city now, what makes this one different than existing facilities?
“The number one thing is the proximity of the supporting amenities we are going to have to the fields,” Project coordinator Bill Brown said. “You are going to be able to walk across the street and access your hotel or a restaurant or other entertainment venues. If the parents are out here and their kids are practicing they are going to be able to walk on our whole new trail system.”
“So I think that's one thing,” Brown continued. “We are going to have a very extensive use of technology here at the site, we have Google fiber that has been approved for the site so we are going to have a lot of bandwidth to do a lot of great things here from a technology point of view. I think that user experience is going to be unlike anything else here in the country.”
On the soccer side
KC Select youth club will be the anchor tenant for Paragon Star’s soccer fields. Founded in 2005, KC Select has been through all the growing pains as a club. With a steadily growing club trying to find practice fields for their teams, they see Paragon Star as the next step in growing the club and soccer.
“Right now what we see is the continued growth of youth soccer and the need for even more fields, more facilities, especially for practice during the week,” Chris Travalent, KC Select president stated. “Swope Soccer Village is a nice complex but there is a limited number of fields and there is no space to expand. Our first phase with 10 fields here plus the potential to expand further really gives us the opportunity to grow along with youth soccer.”
KC Select may not be the only club using the fields but closing in on a 100 teams, their teams should keep the fields active weekday evenings. Travalent anticipates a lot more will be taking place on the fields beyond just practice. “We will certainly have recreational and competitive leagues here at Paragon Star.”
“The feasibility study indicates that a complex with this size with anywhere from 10-15 fields can support tournaments upwards of 200-300 teams in an individual tournament and the market says it can support between 10 and 18 tournaments a year. It all depends on how you divide it out, is it just in the spring and the fall or do have tournaments in the summer of even in the winter time,” Travalent added.
On the business side
While it is obvious that Paragon Star will be a benefit to soccer in the area, the developers and government officials plan on the complex helping build business in two directions.
New development north of New Longview and south of Paragon Star will include residences and business along View High. Add in more development east of Paragon Star along the 470 corridor and the whole area will potentially be booming in the near future.
"You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one."
Mike Downing, the director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development director Mike Downing used this Harry Truman quote to describe the project and the vision behind the project. There is little doubt that it is a big plan and there may be changes along the way but when completed it will also make a big impact on Lees Summit and the surrounding area.