Jackson County section of Rock Island Trail moves forward; $212 million development announced along trail; trail to be completed by 2018

Work on the westernmost 17.7 mile section of the Rock Island trail corridor, now jointly owned by Jackson County and the KCATA, is moving forward quickly. 

The County is already working to select an engineering firm to design the trail--the first step in building it. Engineering and design of the corridor is expected to begin soon. Jackson County plans to have the trail open by 2018. According to the Independence Examiner:

Jackson County officials reiterated Monday that a hiking-and-biking trail on an old rail line should be open by late 2018.

“The goal is 2018 for this to be done,” Calvin Williford, the county’s chief economic development official and executive director of the new Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority, told county legislators on Monday.

The trail would run along 17.7 miles of old Rock Island track from near Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums southeast to Greenwood, with an eventual connection to the Katy Trail as well as connections to another county trail, the Little Blue River Trace Trail. The county bought the old rail corridor two months ago.

Now officials are moving to the next steps. A measure to bring on a consultant goes to county legislators next week, the design-and-engineering process runs through next spring, and then construction would start.

The county also plans to ask for public comments, and officials pointed to three websites (TransitWorksForUs.org, JacksonGov.org and KCATA.org) and two Twitter accounts (@JacksonCo_Rail and @RideKCTransit) where people can learn more.

$212 million mixed-use development planned for Rock Island/Little Blue Trace Trail area

In related news, developers have recently gone public with plans for an ambitious mixed used development along the Rock Island Trail in Lee's Summit & Kansas City, MO. The $212 million development will feature residential housing, retail, hotels, restaurants, a soccer complex, ziplines, trails, and more.  The soccer complex will be home of KC Select, a Kansas City Youth Soccer organization with over 80 teams.

The Paragon Star along the Rock Island Trail in Jackson County will feature walk
The Paragon Star along the Rock Island Trail in Jackson County will feature walkable, bikeable mixed use development with a number of sustainable features

Paragon Star is located at the intersection of the Rock Island Trail and the Little Blue Trace Trail, near the I-470/View High Drive interchange, and plans to leverage that location as well as future planned transit access along the Rock Island RR line.

According to the developer's press release:

Lee’s Summit will soon be home to the finest, state of the art sports complex in Kansas City -- maybe even the country -- as a development team steps forward with a $212 million plan to capitalize on the burgeoning youth sports travel industry. . . .

The name “Paragon Star” is a nod to the five components of the project -- recreation, residential, entertainment, office, and restaurants. It’s part of an overall 300-acre master planned development that will occur in three phases.

The team worked with the City of Lee’s Summit to conduct a joint feasibility study with RERC, which estimated the project could support 139,000 square feet of retail and services; 33,000 square feet of restaurants; and 42,000 square feet for an entertainment venue, as well as a 100-room hotel.

More information about the planned development can be found on p. 16 of the July 2016 issue of Catalyst or on the Paragon Star Facebook page.

Jackson County now has an entire office devoted to developing the Rock Island corridor and creating economic development opportunities along the corridor. The County is putting major emphasis, staffing, and funding into the corridor.

This is an excellent example of how Missouri cities and counties can monopolize on trail and transit opportunities to improve quality of life and simultaneously create sustainable economic development. Kudos to staff and elected leaders at Jackson County and all involved in these projects.

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