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Around the turn of the millennium, a builder with ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints penned a case study in how a large property in the path of development could reshape an area.

Shoal Creek Valley Development Co. spearheaded what then was one of the Kansas City area’s most active projects, in 1,900 acres along Missouri Highway 152 between Interstates 435 and 35. Population in the Shoal Creek Valley jumped by 20,000 between the approval of a master plan in 2000 and 2015, with new residential and commercial construction totaling roughly $1.2 billion.

A replay of the Shoal Creek surge now tantalizes another part of the metropolitan area — and at more than double the scale.

For decades, developers have waited to see when, or whether, the church might make available about 4,200 acres it controls in two Lee’s Summit tracts. Together, the properties are larger than the city of Prairie Village.

“I don’t know that we ever really thought that those (tracts) would be made available, quite frankly,” said Tim Moulis, vice president with Musselman & Hall Contractors LLC. “We knew about them, we knew who owned them, but it was almost considered like a large park. We never thought that it would be something that would be in consideration of actual development.”

But the outlook began to change in January 2019, when Lee’s Summit said it would begin master planning work with church real estate arm Property Reserve Inc. The talks, hit by a pandemic pause, could pave the way for new infrastructure that would allow portions to be marketed and sold off for development.