Northland residents waiting for “our time” need to wait no longer. An explosion of public and private developments is likely to change Clay and Platte County over the next several years, even decades. Clay County, with double Platte County’s population, seems likely to hold its edge and see a majority share of this growth.
An important exception is this year’s opening of the new KCI terminal, a significant addition to the area. Largely a benefit to passenger air travel, this project is paralleled by older, airport-focused industrial development in surrounding Platte County areas. Both, however, are dramatic Northland trends that will continue to impact the entire region. With I-435, much of Clay County is as near to KCI as Platte County.
Clay County development is not only significant, it’s widespread throughout the area. Data center development is a good example. It’s most notable in an area on both sides of the Clay-Platte line, between Smithville and Kansas City, North. Just recently, a nearly 1,000-acres data center development there saw the purchase of 500 acres by Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.
Google, meanwhile, has recently added to its holdings in Hunt Midwest developments near Worlds of Fun. Hunt also operates a data-related tech center in its SubTropolis.
In terms of sheer size, Clay County’s largest area of growth involves logistics, and Liberty is a dramatic example. That city is home to three projects that take the area into the mega center level: the new Amazon Sortation Center, the adjacent Liberty Commerce Center and the expansion of the Hallmark Distribution Center. Combined, they represent $600 million in investment and could bring 4,000 jobs. These join other facilities in Liberty, in the Birmingham area of Kansas City, North, and in the Hunt Midwest Business Center.
In commercial development, Clay County is seeing significant growth as well. Metro North Crossing, the redevelopment of Metro North Shopping Center, is progressing dramatically. With peripheral growth like the popular golf center, T-Shotz, Metro North Crossing is ready to begin a key project: a $40 million multi-family addition and mixed-use area. The center is estimated to represent a $250 million investment when complete.
While Metro North Crossing involves redevelopment of commercial property, One North is building on land that once housed a massive grain elevator. This North Kansas City development is also well under way alongside the I-35/I-29 corridor. The latest project includes a nearly $60 million apartment community. Nearby, a $23-million multiuse project will include a Genesis Health Club. Other planned facilities for One North include a grocery store and restaurants.
Home Sweet Home
Clay County contains some of the fastest growing residential areas of Missouri. Led by communities like Kearney and Smithville, Clay County’s growth also included an increase in numbers of new residents: 255,518 in 2021, a 14.8 percent increase from the 222,649 who lived there in 2010. Like Platte County’s growth, these numbers are well above the 7.3 and 2.9 percent increases for the U.S. and Missouri respectively.
One of the largest Clay County residential developments is proposed in Liberty where plans for the massive, 1,000-acre Montage project were approved late last year by the City Council. The master-planned community will represent nearly $1.8 billion and over 3,300 new residential units including single family, active adult, multifamily and mixed use. It could be home to more than 10,000 new residents when complete.
None of these developments is by itself earthshattering, but combined they bring hundreds of millions in investment and thousands of new jobs. They help fulfill the EDC’s Big 4 goal of growing businesses and employment – and continue to raise Clay County prospects going forward.