Here are developments from the last year that show how Eastern Jackson County continues to grow.
|1 More, more, more at Adams Dairy Parkway, particularly the retailers and restaurants near Interstate 70.||
The area anchored by Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot also now already has Gordmans, Kohl’s, Staples, Petco, Olive Garden, Chipotle and Michaels. On the way: Chick-fil-A, Arby’s and others.
|2 Opening the Ennovation Center in Independence.||
Independence Economic Development opened and runs the facility at the site of the old Independence Regional Health Center, which closed in 2007. The extensively renovated building at 201 N. Forest Ave. in western Independence has kitchen space that businesses can rent, bio-tech labs (converted surgical suites) and other space and support for start-up businesses. Independence Economic Development moved its offices there, and the Independence School District is in the process of doing the same. “It’s a product. It’s one more thing we can sell,” EDC President Tom Lesnak said. “ ... It’s a product nobody else has got.”
|3 A significant extension of Jackson Drive in eastern Independence.||
The city opened a $22.49 million, two-and-a-half mile extension of the four-lane road from 37th Terrace to Missouri 78, near Metropolitan Community Colleges-Blue River. “This valley, in the next 15 years, is going to be rooftops,” said Independence Mayor Don Reimal. “... The businesses are going to come, the people are going to come, and we’re going to have a good expansion in our city.” Also under construction: a wider 39th Street from Noland Road to Crysler Avenue, and the final leg of the Little Blue Expressway all the way north to U.S. 24.
|4 The Corner Spot.||
For years, people had complained it was hard to find a lot of everyday items at stores in western Independence. That changed in September, when IBS Industries opened the Corner Spot in the old drugstore at Truman Road and Ash Street in the Maywood area a few blocks east of Van Horn High School. The store has groceries, household goods, Van Horn Falcon items, and sandwiches and drinks. “It was a focal point for the neighborhood, and it is again,” Mayor Don Reimal said at the ribbon-cutting.
|5 Opening of Mizzou Center in Blue Springs.||
The University of Missouri opened offices in Heartland Financial Services building on Coronado Drive. This is part of the university’s partnership with the community that is aimed at developing the Missouri Innovation Park, a 150-acre complex that matches university research and emerging companies in bioscience, sustainable energy and other areas. “I commend the community for their vision and their determination,” said Steve Wyatt, the university’s vice provost for economic development.
|6 Plans announced for a new business park in the Little Blue River Valley in eastern Independence.||
The 360-acre Independence Business Park will be at Missouri 78 and Missouri 7 with industrial, office and retail space. So far no tenants have been announced, and the parties involved say development could take years. The city hasn’t added an industrial park in four decades. “The real work begins now. Now we can actually put this in front of businesses,” Independence Economic Development President Tom Lesnak said when plans were announced in August.
|7 Trinity Woods.||
Already the site of the Corner Cafe, the development at the southeast corner of Interstate 70 and Little Blue Expressway is getting a Drury Inn and Suites in 2011 (it’s under construction now), and plans have been announced for a Children’s Mercy Hospital facility.
|8 School improvements.||
Many area schools have gotten upgrades in the past year, notably just about every building in the Independence School District, including significant additions or renovations at all three high schools.
|9 Another year, another bridge.||
It’s easy to take concrete and steel for granted, but that’s a vital part what keeps commerce moving. In 2010, it was a new U.S. 40 bridge over Interstate 435, as well as Blue Mills Road over the Little Blue River. In 2011, it’s the Blue Ridge Cut-off bridge over Interstate 70 (set to be done in late March). Others in recent years are Noland Road over I-70, Blue Ridge Boulevard over I-70, U.S. 24 over the railroad tracks in Fairmount and Ash Street over the railroad tracks near Fairmount.
|10 Modest rebound in housing.||
Though overall figures remain low by historical standards, the number of permits issues for new single-family homes rose 21.8 percent in Eastern Jackson County in 2010, compared with 14.6 percent for the greater Kansas City areas. In Jackson County, new-home prices at the end of 2010 were 17 percent higher than at the end of 2009.