Local economic development officials remained locked in a holding pattern today, still awaiting word from a Kansas City, Mo., firm that a lease for the East Hills Business Park shell building had been signed.
Gary Toebben, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, said the effort to lease the 81,087-square-foot building to the Kansas City company wasn't dead.
"We still expect the company to sign the lease for the shell building. We expect it to be any day," he said.
The company has insisted on remaining anonymous until an agreement is in place.
Officials of the chamber and Douglas County Development Inc., the public-private coalition that is developing the business park, had expected to be notified Monday that the seven-year lease had been signed.
MEMBERS OF the executive committee of the firm's corporate parent had been expected to approve the lease during a meeting Friday. However, Toebben said that all members of the executive committee were not able to approve the agreement during Friday's meeting.
"We confirmed in a phone conversation (Tuesday) evening that the lease is still awaiting approval of the entire membership of the executive committee of the parent corporation," he said.
This delay is the latest in a series of postponements of DCDI's plans to install a company in the vacant building, which was constructed on speculation in 1989.
Also on hold is a public hearing for property tax abatements, which the company had requested from the city. The Lawrence City Commission, which canceled two previously scheduled hearings when a signed lease did not materialize, has deferred the matter. The company is seeking a 50 percent abatement for 10 years.
THE KANSAS City company would use the building as a warehouse and distribution center. The firm initially had planned to be operating out of the shell building by March 31. Toebben said earlier this month that DCDI still would try to help the company meet that deadline, although the building first must be finished out according to the firm's specifications.
Local banks have pledged financing for the finish work, which is expected to cost about $300,000.
The company, which reportedly had 1990 revenues of $1.7 billion, initially would employ 20 to 25 people in Lawrence. However, local officials have said the company probably would expand the local facility within a few years.