ow that the Horizons Industrial Park is nearing 50 percent occupancy, Riverside officials are re-directing their focus to the next phase of the city’s growth: encouraging those who call Riverside either their residential or workplace “home” to spend more of their paychecks within the city limits.
The Riverside Board of Aldermen hosted a presentation led by two retail experts, who laid out a master plan intended to drive the city in attracting eating, entertainment and retail establishments.
The city paid Jeff Green Partners/Hoffman Strategy Group $28,000, said City Administrator Greg Mills, to put in writing the possibilities of attracting retail surrounding four already-existing business “partners” who provided statistics and information used in the report.
Those business partners include downtown Riverside, Argosy Casino, Red X and Horizons Industrial Park.
The result was a Power Point presentation and discussion last Wednesday during which Jeff Green and Jerry Hoffman laid out a scenario in which the city could attract retail dollars from not only Riverside’s burgeoning daytime worker population but also from singles, couples and families who’ve planted their lives in Riverside’s growing residential areas.
Green and Hoffman told the board that their past efforts have aided growth in areas such as Kansas City North, Lee’s Summit and Leawood, Kansas. They each touted about 30 years of experience in economic and community development on a national scale.
Green told the board the two were “happy to evaluate your market potential.” He said the report presents “a snapshot in time,” a fluid target that will change with residential and industrial growth.
The speed and breadth of such changes could cause city leaders to “support more than we’re showing you now,” Green said. “You’ve got a substantial number of daytime workers,” Green said during the presentation, mainly referring to the approximately 3,000 workers who spend their days at the Horizons Industrial Park.
However, officials realize that the number will continue to grow with additional businesses throughout the next 10 to 15 years until the business park reaches capacity, Mike Duffy, director of community development, said during an interview after the meeting. Duffy added that Riverside is experiencing new home construction but the major force behind that growth is not the increasing number of employees at the industrial site.
Green and Hoffman analyzed nearly 30 categories of potential business plants, including apparel, home improvement, entertainment, fast-food and sit-down restaurants. They analyzed the following potential retail growth areas: The Village at Briarcliff, Antioch Crossing (N.E. Vivion and N.E. Antioch), North Oak Marketplace & Village (N.E. Vivion Road and N. Oak Traffic way), Sam’s Club (on North Oak Trafficway) and Village at Burlington Creek (N.W. 64th St. and Interstate I-29).
From those estimates, they calculated potential retail revenue at nearly $52 million the first year with the potential to grow to more than $59 million during the fifth year of such business growth, they said.
Mayor Kathy Rose emphasized the importance of retail to Riverside’s current development and future growth. She said growing retail must be coupled with encouraging Riverside’s employees and residents to form new habits.
“We don’t think anything of driving everywhere, whether it’s the Plaza or the sports stadium,” she said during the presentation.
Green added: “That’s dollars walking away.”
Board members commented that Riverside area residents are in the habit of walking citywide trails and posing for special-event photos near The Welcome Plaza at Vivion and Gateway but then often travel elsewhere to eat, shop and enjoy entertainment in conjunction with such occasions.
The presentation included specific restaurants and retail shops that could easily compliment already-existing businesses. Options include fast food, such as McDonalds, Taco Bell and Papa John’s pizza, specialty coffee shops, including Scooter’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, and the presentation included services currently absent, such as shoe stores and nail salons, entertainment venues, including indoor skydiving and an amusement park and even a hotel.
During an interview following the presentation, Mills added that the board will follow the presentation with a specially-called workshop discussion to be held sometime before the next regularly-scheduled board of aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18.