By Tyler Schneider
The last time mayor Leonard Jones Jr. gave Grandview’s State of the City address on January 23, 2020, it had been five decades since the Chiefs last appeared in a Super Bowl.
“My parting words to everyone [were], ‘God bless and Go Chiefs’. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl, but little did we know the gravity of other challenges heading our way,” Jones recalled.
As Jones presented his 2022 edition to a crowd at The Armacost Museum, March 10, he offered plenty of evidence to suggest that the city has weathered the storm better than most.
“Right now, we’re here to talk about today. And I’m here to tell you that Grandview is thriving,” Jones said. “The 2020 census shows a significant population growth for us in just one year, business licenses are growing, and commercial construction has exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Our finances are strong and have shown resilience during the pandemic. City revenues have grown steadily over the past four years.”
The revitalization has been a long time coming for Jones, who has served as mayor since 2014. In that time, the population has increased for the first time since the 1990 census, with 2020 data showing the city at over 26,000 strong, a gain of 5.4%.
Meanwhile, crime rates have gradually decreased, Jones added in a nod of approval to the police department.
Grandview has kept pace with all of that growth by adding more than 450 new housing units and increasing the city’s market value from $1.1 to $1.6 billion since 2017. Between 2020 and 2021, 161 new businesses have moved into town, with seven of those electing to station their headquarters in Grandview.
These positive trends have been the result of a meticulous economic overhaul, spearheaded early on by the revamped Truman’s Marketplace in 2016. This area has since flourished, with a $5 million Comfort Inn among the many new businesses that had flocked there in 2021.
This was just the beginning. On August 17, 2021, Jones oversaw the official groundbreaking process on converting the outer roads along I-49 from a one-way system to the two-way system that had been in place prior to 1980. The project cost $15 million, with all but $3 million coming from outside of the city budget through a combination of MoDot and federal grants.
The conversion will bring, “a tremendous amount of traffic that will be appealing to a lot of retailers and restaurants,” Jones said.
Jones cited SouthPointe Business Park as another example, with the industrial property adding $5 million in new office space and two new warehouses in the past year. The city has also filled the long vacant space that had previously been a Sam’s Club by way of a $3 billion renovation by Blue Sky Storage.
Jones adds that the city has no intention of slowing down.
“One of our biggest opportunities for future growth is in our vision of turning 150 Hwy to into a lifestyle port, providing a variety of jobs, housing options, and recreation. Since 2018, that stretch of highway has added more than 400 housing units, plus a restaurant, and a microbrewery. And it’s prompting more developers to accurately capture this area’s economic potential,” Jones said.
One such project would bring a much-needed grocery store to southern Grandview, which Jones says has a sales potential of “well over $1 million a week,” according to municipal studies.
To support this rapid expansion, however, Jones stressed the importance of passing a $21 million bond package when voters return to the polls on April 5.
“First of all, the money will allow improvements for the nearly 50 year old city hall and the police department. Right now the police department is running out of space and is in dire need. Secondly, more than $12 million in the bond package will improve Grandview’s infrastructure, with a majority going toward brand new streets and sidewalks,” Jones explained.
“Maintaining our infrastructure is critical to Grandview’s future. That’s why the Board of Aldermen and I included two major goals: implement a citywide replacement program for new and existing streets, sidewalks and curbs, and enhance street maintenance. The result will provide citizens, visitors and businesses with the consistently maintained quality infrastructure we all deserve,” Jones said.