By: Jordan Straits

What does it take to bring a multi-million dollar mixed-used development to fruition? Often development projects seem to spring up overnight, but the details to get to that point might be more than you realize.

During a tour of the nearly completed project, Matt Pennington, President and founding-partner of Drake Development, shared what it takes to complete a project of this size. Among the list: community support, a cooperative city government, a key location, assemblage, time to let things happen at their own pace, experience, relationships, buy in and a whole lot of key details to line up.

Matt Pennington, President of Drake Development, LLC

It all started with the purchase of a single lot off Lowenstein in 2014. And then another lot, and another, and another until Pennington had purchased 13 parcels in the area. “It was a great location,” explained Pennington. “We always look at traffic counts around our developments and we just continued to see counts on 470 go up and up.”

Pennington began acquiring individual parcels as they became available, but still without a clear plan of what he would do with them. The turning point came in 2017 with the purchase of 20 acres on the back, west side of the lot. That changed everything. Those 20 acres plus the 30 he had already acquired, meant that Pennington now owned 50 acres total and the hope of a mixed-used development began to set in.


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Although he’s not from the Kansas City area, Matt Pennington is a mid-westerner through and through. Born and raised in Nebraska, he learned early the value of relationship building. After college, Pennington teamed up with veteran developer David Christie and the two worked together from 2007 to 2016 on ‘big box’ developments. Pennington became interested in mixed use developments and noticed there weren’t many in this area. Pennington and Christie split ways and Pennington founded Drake Development in 2016.

When asked to describe his team at Drake, Pennington offered one word: lean. “There are only six Drake employees plus founding partner, Tara Smiley,” said Pennington. “Everyone else is contracted. Staying lean has been an integral piece to our success.”

Large, wide sidewalks extend from Lowenstein Park throughout the whole development as seen here along Pryor Road.

It’s important to note that Pennington had the privilege of one big key factor: time. He had time to let deals breathe, time to hold parcels, time to let the community accept his plan, and time for intricate details to be carefully and thoughtfully planned.

Time, for example, was a huge assets when it came to purchasing lots owned by neighbor, Red Development. Red still owned a number of unused parcels left from their development of SummitWoods Crossing. It took time and a lot of relationship building between Pennington and Jeff Henne, in order to seal the deal.

However, even with time on their side, this project was not without challenges. Assemblage was definitely the first big hurdle and took the most time, but assemblage was also their biggest accomplishment. The team successfully orchestrated 60 closings in a single-day which was huge!

Another huge obstacle was Lee’s Summit’s beloved Lowenstein Park. It was important to the community and Lee’s Summit Parks + Rec that the development integrated well with the park. “The perception was that we were buying the park, but that was never the case” recalled Pennington. The team worked hard to bring the development and park together seamlessly and one way they accomplished this was by extending the park’s wide walking path throughout the development. Just on the edge of the park next to the pond lies two restaurant pads that will feature outdoor seating facing the pond and park. The pond will also be getting a facelift with the addition of a waterfall and bouldering around the water edge. “The City of Lee’s Summit and Parks + Recreation have been great to work with. They have been very good to us throughout this project” said Pennington.


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In addition to the park challenges, there was also an issue of zoning. The neighboring homeowners associations required some convincing for a project of this size to be built next door and luckily for the HOA, the City of Lee’s Summit listens to its residents. Pennington began working with the HOA early in the project, and it started as a large group. However, eventually the group leveled down to about 25 people active in the project and served as Pennington’s community sounding board through the duration of the project.

Another more technical challenge was the ground. This property had a lot of hard rock (30-feet of cut to be exact) and that made construction very difficult. Another layer to the project – pardon the pun – that made this project so difficult.

Despite breaking ground in May of this year, the Covid-19 pandemic has had little effect on the development. “The city keeping things open was huge, otherwise we could have lost millions,” said Pennington. “That wasn’t the case in other areas of the country. For example, we are working on a Topgolf in Albuquerque and the whole project just got shutdown.” Thankfully the development was not shutdown and today we have a nearly completed project.

As we walked the property, Pennington was eager to talk about the residential ammenities this development brings – luxury amenities that are unmatched in the Lee’s Summit community. The goal of this project, and all mixed-use developments Drake takes on, is to enhance residential living. The focus was to be very walkable and to provide residents with everything they need and want: fitness, restaurants, shops and entertainment all within walking distance. That’s one reason you will find a luxury apartments at the center of the project complete with clubhouse, pool and underground parking for all tenants.

The ground level of the apartment building boasts 22,000 square feet of retail space with the corner lots designed for patio seating giving it a  very “shoppy” feel. Across from the apartment entrance you will find a clocktower surrounded by turf green space and two of their anchor restaurants: First Watch and Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. “Securing Firebirds was a huge win for this project,” remarked Pennington.

The Street of West Pryor boasts a 63,000 square foot McKeever’s Market and Eatery – now open!

The development’s anchor store is McKeever’s Market and Eatery, a 63,000 square foot grocery store which is open now. First Watch is planned to open in mid-October and the Supplement Store is open now. The apartments are planned to be available in early 2021, and the team is still negotiating a number of available restaurant pads and retail store fronts.

For information about leasing or to follow the latest updates, follow Drake Development on social media and visit their website at drakekc.com.

[/cs_text]By: Jordan Straits
What does it take to bring a multi-million dollar mixed-used development to fruition? Often development projects seem to spring up overnight, but the details to get to that point might be more than you realize.
During a tour of the nearly completed project, Matt Pennington, President and founding-partner of Drake Development, shared what it takes to complete a project of this size. Among the list: community support, a cooperative city government, a key location, assemblage, time to let things happen at their own pace, experience, relationships, buy in and a whole lot of key details to line up.
Matt Pennington, President of Drake Development, LLC
It all started with the purchase of a single lot off Lowenstein in 2014. And then another lot, and another, and another until Pennington had purchased 13 parcels in the area. “It was a great location,” explained Pennington. “We always look at traffic counts around our developments and we just continued to see counts on 470 go up and up.”
Pennington began acquiring individual parcels as they became available, but still without a clear plan of what he would do with them. The turning point came in 2017 with the purchase of 20 acres on the back, west side of the lot. That changed everything. Those 20 acres plus the 30 he had already acquired, meant that Pennington now owned 50 acres total and the hope of a mixed-used development began to set in.

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Although he’s not from the Kansas City area, Matt Pennington is a mid-westerner through and through. Born and raised in Nebraska, he learned early the value of relationship building. After college, Pennington teamed up with veteran developer David Christie and the two worked together from 2007 to 2016 on ‘big box’ developments. Pennington became interested in mixed use developments and noticed there weren’t many in this area. Pennington and Christie split ways and Pennington founded Drake Development in 2016.
When asked to describe his team at Drake, Pennington offered one word: lean. “There are only six Drake employees plus founding partner, Tara Smiley,” said Pennington. “Everyone else is contracted. Staying lean has been an integral piece to our success.”
Large, wide sidewalks extend from Lowenstein Park throughout the whole development as seen here along Pryor Road.
It’s important to note that Pennington had the privilege of one big key factor: time. He had time to let deals breathe, time to hold parcels, time to let the community accept his plan, and time for intricate details to be carefully and thoughtfully planned.
Time, for example, was a huge assets when it came to purchasing lots owned by neighbor, Red Development. Red still owned a number of unused parcels left from their development of SummitWoods Crossing. It took time and a lot of relationship building between Pennington and Jeff Henne, in order to seal the deal.
However, even with time on their side, this project was not without challenges. Assemblage was definitely the first big hurdle and took the most time, but assemblage was also their biggest accomplishment. The team successfully orchestrated 60 closings in a single-day which was huge!
Another huge obstacle was Lee’s Summit’s beloved Lowenstein Park. It was important to the community and Lee’s Summit Parks + Rec that the development integrated well with the park. “The perception was that we were buying the park, but that was never the case” recalled Pennington. The team worked hard to bring the development and park together seamlessly and one way they accomplished this was by extending the park’s wide walking path throughout the development. Just on the edge of the park next to the pond lies two restaurant pads that will feature outdoor seating facing the pond and park. The pond will also be getting a facelift with the addition of a waterfall and bouldering around the water edge. “The City of Lee’s Summit and Parks + Recreation have been great to work with. They have been very good to us throughout this project” said Pennington.

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In addition to the park challenges, there was also an issue of zoning. The neighboring homeowners associations required some convincing for a project of this size to be built next door and luckily for the HOA, the City of Lee’s Summit listens to its residents. Pennington began working with the HOA early in the project, and it started as a large group. However, eventually the group leveled down to about 25 people active in the project and served as Pennington’s community sounding board through the duration of the project.
Another more technical challenge was the ground. This property had a lot of hard rock (30-feet of cut to be exact) and that made construction very difficult. Another layer to the project – pardon the pun – that made this project so difficult.
Despite breaking ground in May of this year, the Covid-19 pandemic has had little effect on the development. “The city keeping things open was huge, otherwise we could have lost millions,” said Pennington. “That wasn’t the case in other areas of the country. For example, we are working on a Topgolf in Albuquerque and the whole project just got shutdown.” Thankfully the development was not shutdown and today we have a nearly completed project.
As we walked the property, Pennington was eager to talk about the residential ammenities this development brings – luxury amenities that are unmatched in the Lee’s Summit community. The goal of this project, and all mixed-use developments Drake takes on, is to enhance residential living. The focus was to be very walkable and to provide residents with everything they need and want: fitness, restaurants, shops and entertainment all within walking distance. That’s one reason you will find a luxury apartments at the center of the project complete with clubhouse, pool and underground parking for all tenants.
The ground level of the apartment building boasts 22,000 square feet of retail space with the corner lots designed for patio seating giving it a  very “shoppy” feel. Across from the apartment entrance you will find a clocktower surrounded by turf green space and two of their anchor restaurants: First Watch and Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. “Securing Firebirds was a huge win for this project,” remarked Pennington.
The Street of West Pryor boasts a 63,000 square foot McKeever’s Market and Eatery – now open!
The development’s anchor store is McKeever’s Market and Eatery, a 63,000 square foot grocery store which is open now. First Watch is planned to open in mid-October and the Supplement Store is open now. The apartments are planned to be available in early 2021, and the team is still negotiating a number of available restaurant pads and retail store fronts.
For information about leasing or to follow the latest updates, follow Drake Development on social media and visit their website at drakekc.com.

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