Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Developers tout industrial park

March 27, 2008

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Planners ask city to OK airport business park

Developers of a proposed industrial park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport make their case this afternoon for a project they say is financially feasible for the city. Enlarge video

The site for the proposed industrial park is at the northwest corner of East 900 Road and North 1800 Road, also known as the Farmers Turnpike.

The site for the proposed industrial park is at the northwest corner of East 900 Road and North 1800 Road, also known as the Farmers Turnpike.

Developers proposing an industrial park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport did their best Wednesday to convince city commissioners that the project was financially feasible.

Lawrence developer Jes Santaularia told commissioners that his group would pay $1 million to have water and sewer service extended to the area, if the city and county would agree to pay a little more than $2 million to cover other immediate infrastructure needs.

Several city commissioners said Santaularia's offer to help pay for the infrastructure costs was welcome but stopped short of saying they were ready to support the project.

"I think this puts it in the realm of feasibility, but there are a lot of other intangibles to consider," said City Commissioner Rob Chestnut, who was particularly concerned about stormwater issues.

Originally, city staff members estimated that about $8 million worth of infrastructure improvement needed to be made to accommodate the project, which proposes to build an approximately 145-acre business park near the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and North Seventh Street.

But Santaularia said about $5.9 million of those estimated costs are for road improvements that don't need to be completed for at least five years, and only if the business park successfully attracts a number of tenants. Santaularia said if the park successfully attracts tenants, it will produce more than enough new taxes to pay for the road improvements.

City staff members said they would have to further analyze Santaularia's assumptions before deciding whether the projects could realistically be delayed.

Santaularia proposed to pay half the costs: $1 million for sewer and water improvements in the area. He proposes that the city pay the remaining $1 million in water and sewer costs but said the city would get good value for the investment because it would allow the Lawrence Municipal Airport to hook up to water and sewer service.

Santaularia also wants the city to pay for about $400,000 in stormwater improvements, which he said is needed even without the development. He's proposing the county pay for about $1.1 million in road improvements to the intersection of U.S. 24/40 and North Seventh Street. He said that intersection needs improved regardless of whether his project moves forward.

"We would like the city to look at this project as a catalyst to provide future funds for other improvements that need to be made in North Lawrence," Santaularia said.

But opposition from neighbors remained stiff. A crowd of about 50 people showed up at the afternoon study session. They continued to express concerns that the project would worsen flooding in North Lawrence, create traffic problems for neighborhoods and take prime farm ground out of production.

City Commissioner Mike Dever said it would be difficult to support the project with such strong neighborhood opposition, especially given that the proposed business park doesn't have a tenant in waiting.

"I think we all know that we need new places for new jobs, but there are still an awful lot of hurdles for this project to overcome," Dever said.

City Commissioner Boog Highberger also expressed some reservations, although he said the financial picture of the project seems to have improved.

"I'm still not convinced this is the best use for that property," Highberger said. "Twenty years from now, I think we would be very pleased to have prime agricultural ground right next to the city."

Comments

somebodynew 7 years, 2 months ago

Hip - you are correct, AND I can't find a story about the results of that annexation request that was supposed to be heard last night.

gr 7 years, 2 months ago

Why have industrial parks? Don't they just make things to send to other states?

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 2 months ago

The caption under the location map is for another proposed industrial park.

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years, 2 months ago

Hawk, IMO the last thing we want in Lawrence is a casino, regardless of who runs it.

I definitely support the feelings of those in N. Lawrence regarding this issue. NO to this project.

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 2 months ago

Somebodynew:

The planning commission voted 6 to 2 to recommend annexation.

If anyone thinks the airport industrial park is a moneypit, then you might be interested in finding out more about the proposed annexation of +/- 150 acres at N 1800 & E 900; no studies have been done on what this will cost the tax payers. The closest city utilities are two miles away.

The developer has not offered to spend any of his money to extend utilities, upgrade roads, or to buy out RWD #6 for the water line that extends across the property. Nor has the developer spoke of potential tenents that they have lined up.

I should mention that the annexation is outside the urban growth area, and that the planning staff recommended denying this project specifically because no cost studies have been performed.

frankwiles 7 years, 2 months ago

First off I have no real opinion on this particular industrial park. I can see having and not having as equally good, albeit different, outcomes.

I understand why people initially get upset when the City spends tax money on projects like this, but this is just how it is done. Think about it this way, you didn't have to spend direct out of pocket money on the City running sewer and water pipes down your street before your house was even built there. I know I didn't. Some tax payers years before paid for that for you.

Sure you had some direct costs rolled into the cost of your home such as hooking up to the sewer, your own plumbing, your driveway, etc. But you weren't directly billed $5k for that traffic light down the street. Nor for the street signs, street lights, storm water drains, and even the street itself. The Community Tax Pool paid for that for you. The Community spends our money on these projects when it appears to be in the best interest of the Community. You contribute back in with your taxes after the fact. Possibly you were payinjg taxes here in Lawrence for 50 years, or maybe 5, or maybe none if you just moved to the area.

The developers of projects like this are just like you and your own home or business. Their project ( aka "home" ) is just on a larger scale with bigger needs. But also with bigger taxes, so they rightly are given larger help.

Don't get upset when the City spends money on infrastructure. But DO get upset if they are spending it on projects where we the Community won't likely see a return on that investment.

Remembering of course that life happens and mistakes happen and we're never going to invest all of our money wisely 100% of the time. We're human after all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"Don't get upset when the City spends money on infrastructure. But DO get upset if they are spending it on projects where we the Community won't likely see a return on that investment."

That pretty well describes 95% of the development (bedroom community sprawl) of the last 25 years, and explains why taxes in this town continue to go up.

kujeeper 7 years, 2 months ago

"I'm still not convinced this is the best use for that property," Highberger said. "Twenty years from now, I think we would be very pleased to have prime agricultural ground right next to the city."

Why would you want agricultural ground next to the city in twenty years? North Lawrence needs to be developed out with industry, it's got I-70 right there! Boog needs to think before he speaks...

BigPrune 7 years, 2 months ago

What exactly is the developer's track record for building industrial parks in the past?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Bring on impact fees and excise taxes!!

Last night the Chamber of Commerce said they could NOT provide a list of alleged corporations that have not come to Lawrence because Lawrence did not have a building waiting in the right location.

The names are confidential because of not wanting their current city of location to know the business is shopping around. Why would Lawrence want a shady operating business? Wouldn't they screw Lawrence in the end as well?

If the north Lawrence project were such a hot deal let developers pay all new infrastructure except the taxpayers still get stuck with the maintenance bills.

If all of the properties selected by profit making developers are truly necessary they can buy the property and sit on it until a need arises. Why should taxpayers subsidize millionaire developers? Why do commissioners choose to subsidize the real estate special interests with our tax dollars? These commissioners need replaced sooner rather than later.

Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed right now. Developers buy property and then believe that is where growth should take place. This is why the Lawrence economy is so screwed up.

It is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for speculators. Speculating=gambling. Land speculators know these things.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 1 month ago

What company is going to want to go in there knowing they will have to buy flood insurance?

crackers 7 years, 1 month ago

The chamber of commerce is in a desperate situation. Thats why they make up stories.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Kujeeper,

We're not going to be able to import food forever. It's a good idea to keep some arable land nearby so we can feed ourselves.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Many older neighborhoods and downtown have been paying taxes for 50-100 years to support maintenance of corresponding infrastructure only to see those tax dollars go into new neighborhoods while older neighborhoods needs are ignored. Now we're told city hall cannot afford to back up that commitment and want more tax dollars because commissioners spent those older neighborhood tax dollars irresponsibly.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

A North Lawrence drainage study revealed that $16.2 million in reconstruction projects and $24.8 million in flood projects were necessary for any type of development.

Additionally a $477,000 bridge is also necessary at 1600 rd and a $326,000 culvert project at 24/40.

Yes impact fees and excises taxes are necessary. Taxpayers need relief from corrupt corporate welfare.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Traffic Impact Studies Environmental Impact Studies *Economic Impact Studies

All of the above are missing.

None of the industrial parks have tenants waiting. There is space at East Hills and between East Hills and Farmland. It's still a secret who paid for the building that was requiring a shady quiet back room deal to bring a tenant on board that fell through due to questionable practices. After years and years and years it remains empty.... maybe at taxpayer expense.

Developers have become accustomed to corrupt instant gratification on the backs of taxpayers. Buy the land and sit on it I say which is a common practice.

K_for_Kansas 7 years, 1 month ago

Residents in cities all over the world are wishing they had good agricultural land nearby and here we have it and we're entertaining proposals to pave it over and load it up with emissions-spewing vehicles that will further pollute the air, earth and water around us. This strikes me as precisely the wrong direction for a healthy, sustainable future.

What if, instead, this piece of property became the centerpiece of a Lawrence Local Food movement? We could have processing plants for various food crops, so there would be added value for growers, and jobs for local people. As gas prices skyrocket and food sources become more suspect, we might find ourselves as happy as Highberger to have that beautiful, fertile land right up the road.

justinlawrence30 7 years, 1 month ago

Merrill...fyi if a building is empty they still are paying property taxes.

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