6 takeaways from Lenexa’s annual State of the City address

Lenexa has released a video State of the City address that touts some areas of progress the city saw in 2021. Some takeaways include the return of popular in-person events like the annual Lenexa Chili Cook-off and continued growth and changes at Lenexa Public Market, above. File image.

Lenexa in 2021 saw high resident satisfaction, a return of some popular local events and continued growth and development at some much-watched sites, including the Lenexa Public Market and City Center.

These were some of the key takeaways in a virtual State of the City video released Wednesday by the city.

Mayor Mike Boehm had been set to give an in-person address earlier this month during a Lenexa Chamber of Commerce luncheon, but that event was canceled due to rising COVID-19 cases at the time.

Here are a few takeaways from the State of the City video:

High citizen satisfaction ratings across the board

Lenexa enjoys high citizen satisfaction ratings, particularly in transportation. The city recently completed a key section of the Lackman Trail. File photo credit Wendy Delzeit.

Once again, Lenexa has enjoyed high ratings in its annual citizen satisfaction survey, with 97% of Lenexans saying they’re pleased with the city as a good place to live.

The city also enjoyed high ratings in snow removal, cleanliness of streets, and a feeling of safety in its neighborhoods, as well as traffic congestion management and improved transportation.

Part of the positive results come as the city works to improve alternative modes of transportation, including completion of the Lackman Trail connection between 87th and 95th streets and plans to build a new tunnel under 87th Street Parkway to connect Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park to the city’s trail system.

Growth at the Lenexa Public Market

Big changes have come to the Lenexa Public Market, including the addition of Cosmo Burger (coming soon). Photo via Cosmo Burger.

The Lenexa Public Market experienced a new wave of activity in the past several months.

Critically acclaimed Kansas City-based Cosmo Burger is bringing its smash burger concept to the market as the fifth anchor tenant.

That update follows several other tenant changes, including the addition of a wine tasting room, bringing African Dream Cuisine as a permanent installment in the market and Red Kitchen KC moving out of a smaller stall to an anchor tenant spot.

New investment in public safety, parks and recreation

new Lenexa courthouse
Lenexa is planning to move its public safety complex to a central location. The new site at Prairie Star Parkway and Britton Street will allow more room for police officers serving a growing population, as well as enhanced training spaces. Above, conceptual design of the new site.

Lenexa is investing more into public safety and parks and recreation over the next several months, and several projects are expected to begin soon, including:

The city also made changes to its exterior grant program and onboarded new wayside horns in Old Town to help make the streets quieter from passing trains.

And most recently, the city is taking next steps on the Indian Trails and Ad Astra pools.

After the city completed an aquatics study, the Lenexa City Council is planning to invest $19 million into Indian Trails Aquatic Center as well as Ad Astra Pool. Next steps are coming later this year.

Gathering together again

Lenexa Chili Challenge
The Lenexa Chili Challenge and other special events made a return after being canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatherings have been a key component of life in Lenexa, sometimes called the “City of Festivals.” File photo courtesy city of Lenexa.

After two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Lenexa gradually increased the number of special events in 2021.

“Celebrations like the annual Lenexa Chili Challenge felt even more special as we were able to gather again in person,” said Councilmember Bill Nicks, as part of the State of the City video presentation. “Coming together to celebrate and enjoy both new and favorite experiences strengthens our bond as a community.”

The following events made a return in 2021:

The city also completed a peace poles project, which brought 40 original art pieces to Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park. Auction proceeds of about $10,000 went to Project 1020, a cold-weather homeless shelter.

Additionally, the city raised more than $6,000 from its Swingin’ for a Scholarship Pickleball Tournaments, which go toward the city’s parks and recreation scholarship fund.

Developments in Lenexa City Center

Lenexa City Center has seen an exponential level of growth and development since becoming the city’s new downtown in recent years.

The site in 2021 received the Great Places in Kansas Award from the Kansas Planning Chapter of the American Planning Association in recognition of the area’s “visionary planning approach.”

Lenexa City Center is home to the new city hall, a new library, an aquatics center for the Shawnee Mission School District, The District — which serves as headquarters for several companies as well as new boutiques and dining options — and will eventually become home to a wellness campus by AdventHealth.

High residential, commercial growth last year

Last year was the fifth highest year in Lenexa’s history, according to the city. Here are some statistics to demonstrate that level of growth:

  • $300 million in total construction was permitted
  • Residential construction strong, with more than $125 million in housing
  • $95 million in new construction on single-family housing
  • About $120 million in new commercial construction

Some of the improvements are a direct result of the city having completed a key section of Ridgeview Road between K-10 Highway and Prairie Star Parkway. That node is designed to attract and improve residential, commercial and industrial development opportunities on the west-central side of the city.