A 467-acre complex used by Farmland Industries Inc. to produce fertilizer for nearly five decades is being temporarily reduced for use as an office building and two warehouses.
FI Remediation Trust, the liquidating trust for what remains of the bankrupt Farmland cooperative, is offering the buildings for short-term leases at rates ranging from $1 to $8 per square foot.
While the complex remains closed - as it has been since 2001, less than a year before the cooperative filed for bankruptcy protection - the trust figures it may as well squeeze whatever money it can out of the property before the entire complex is sold for redevelopment.
"It's an asset we have, and we have to put it into good, productive use," said Kamyar Manesh, a former Farmland employee now working as site administrator for the trust's own trustee, SELS Administrative Services LLC. "As a trustee, we have an obligation to maximize the revenues for the estate."
The complex is along the north side of Kansas Highway 10, at the southeastern edge of town, and reaches as far north as 15th Street. Lawrence and Douglas County commissioners have been studying the property for months as a potential location for a future business park, and the site has been identified as a top priority for such development by the Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board.
But selling the land - whether it's to a government, a private developer or a cleanup firm - could be three to five years away, Manesh said. The trust intends to lease the buildings so that there would be minimal interference with a buyer's intentions.
"We hope we can get this divested as soon as possible," said Manesh, who said he had heard from about a half dozen parties interested in the site.
A rundown of the buildings available for lease:
¢ The main office, which covers 20,000 square feet, would go for $160,000 a year, a rate of $8 per square foot that would cover expenses includes taxes, maintenance and utilities. Marilyn Bittenbender, a broker for Grubb & Ellis/The Winbury Group, said the space would be especially appropriate for an expanding church that needs room to expand as it seeks financing and completes construction of a new location.
¢ A 26,000-square-foot warehouse, behind the office building, that had been used for parts and milling operations. The trust is seeking $26,000 for a year's lease, or $1 per square foot.
¢ A larger, 128,000-square-foot warehouse at the north end of the site, off 15th Street. The building had been used to store 50-pound bags of fertilizer, and would be appropriate for a company looking for short-term storage capacity, Bittenbender said. The asking rate is $160,000 for a year's lease.
"Any activity there is going to be better than what we have now," Bittenbender said. "Hopefully, we can help out some companies that have some short-term needs and make this a win-win solution."