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Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2011

County pumps money into waterline for Berry Plastics warehouse

Masonic Temple tax rebate also approved

September 22, 2011

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Douglas County commissioners are ready to pump public money into installation of a new water pipe designed to enable construction and operation of a new warehouse for Berry Plastics northwest of Lawrence.

Commissioners approved an agreement Wednesday to finance the installation of waterline along the Farmer’s Turnpike, between East 700 and East 800 roads. The pipe, to be 6 inches in diameter, will replace one 4 inches in diameter and be about 5,000 feet long.

The line will supply a warehouse now under construction for Berry Plastics, which has a manufacturing complex at the northern edge of Lawrence for making cups and other plastic products. The warehouse will be at 670 N. 1800 Road.

Commissioners already had agreed in February to provide $431,000 in incentives to the warehouse project, expected to result in an additional dozen jobs at Berry Plastics but also open up room for more employees within the main plant.

That internal space, in turn, could provide enough room for another production line or other upgrades to keep the complex a major player in Lawrence-area employment for years to come, said Nancy Thellman, county commissioner.

“It’ll keep them a viable manufacturer in the community, rather than becoming obsolete,” Thellman said.

The county’s investment in the line will come out of the $431,000, a fund also expected to finance road improvements associated with the project. A grant from the state also will help pay for the waterline, Thellman said.

• • •

Douglas County commissioners agreed Wednesday to give owners of the former Masonic Temple in downtown Lawrence a rebate on their additional property taxes during the next decade, freeing up money to help make the building’s renovation a reality.

The county still will receive its full share of the current property taxes paid on the building at 1001 Mass., payments that will not change for the next 10 years.

But the property taxes produced by an estimated $800,000 in upgrades to the building will be rebated following a scheduled already endorsed by Lawrence city commissioners: Consolidated Properties would retain 95 percent of those taxes in the first year, then 90 percent in the second year and on down each year until the rebate was 50 percent in the 10th year.

After that, payments on the entire property tax bill would go to local governments in full.

The building is to be renovated for use by Maceli’s as a catering and events venue.

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