Downtown Blue Springs redevelopment would include shops, restaurants and apartments

By Mike Genet
The Examiner
The ‘Meet Me at the Yard’ project with shops and apartments would anchor the west end of downtown Blue Springs.

A developer has proposed apartments, shops and entertainment space for the former lumber yard in downtown Blue Springs.

“Our basic concept is we want to bring people to downtown Blue Springs,” developer Henry Lyons told the City Council recently. “We want to bring excitement, places to go and people to flock to downtown Blue Springs, to put it on the map with other suburban cities.”

The plan floated by Henry Lyons and Company includes retail, restaurant and entertainment, residential and green spaces over nearly city-owned 3.5 acres off Main Street just west of the railroad tracks.

The council unanimously approved a resolution last month to designate Lyons as developer for the project and for the city to discuss a sale and more definite plans. No dollar figures for the project, dubbed “Meet Me at The Yard,” have been released. 

The name, Lyons said, “Sort of signifies what the project is about because it used to be a lumber yard.”

The city issued a request for proposal in December 2019 for a redevelopment plan, and Lyons, from Kansas City, was one of two firms to respond.

A review team of 10 people consisted of city staff, three council members, and downtown business owners and business advocates. Because of pandemic-related delays, the review team didn’t meet about the proposals until this past December, and in February it selected Lyons. 

In recent years, the lumber yard building served as some temporary city offices while Blue Springs first built the new public safety building, then renovated City Hall. 

“Now, it’s time to move on” and use the space to help invigorate downtown, Mayor Carson Ross said.

Initial plans call for a front portion of about 12,000 square feet of retail space, facing the railroad and Main Street, with live-work units on the second floor. As lead architect Timothy Homburg described, the restaurant area could incorporate the rooftop for public use with the entertainment at ground level. 

“We feel strongly that the existing fabric of two- or three-story buildings is critical,” Homburg said of downtown, adding that prior master plans developed by the city helped greatly with initial designs.

“The master plan influenced us a lot in how we made our design concept,” he said. “They gave some great advice, some insight on how this project could fit better. People want to have the historic downtown feel but with the modern amenities.”

The rear portion of the development would include perhaps four stories of 95 apartment units, enough when occupied to make the project viable, Homburg said.

“The people that will be residing will be providing business activity to downtown,” Lyons added.

Ross said the city wants downtown to be a destination and generate some excitement from citizens, similar to how Lee’s Summit and Independence have tried to leverage their central areas.

No timeline has been discussed, said Ross, who was re-elected last year to another four-year term, but he hopes the project can happen before he leaves office.

“This would totally transform downtown Blue Springs,” he said.