Archive for Business

Restaurant opens in West State Plaza

WingBusters held a grand opening Sunday afternoon at the West State Plaza at 75th and State Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas. Next to the restaurant is a Labor Max office.

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GM starts layoff notices

by Rebecca Tombaugh

Employee notifications began with a reduction from three shifts to two, says Mary Padilla, spokesperson at General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

Padilla said this will cause the least impact to workers. Lower demand for passenger cars is the reason, and she said GM is switching to the crossovers, which are increasing in demand.

Late Friday, Mark Holland, Mayor and CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, issued this statement:

“Upon hearing news of layoffs at General Motors’ Fairfax Assembly Plant, my first concern was for the workers and their families. Today, I reached out to the United Autoworkers Union #31 to express that concern and to let them know that we are ready to help in any way we can to minimize the impact on the workers and their families.

“No community likes to receive news of a major employer laying off employees. We are fortunate in Kansas City, Kansas, to have a strong partnership with GM. That partnership has helped GM invest $800 million in its Fairfax plant since 2009. I am hopeful that GM will remain strong and that the Fairfax plant will grow back to its full employment capacity very soon.

“We are also fortunate that the Unified Government, in partnership with Wyandotte Economic Development Council, has worked hard for more than a decade to diversify our economy so we can protect against downturns in specific sectors. In recent years, we have seen the growth of our health care, service, corporate, and small to mid-size manufacturing sectors, with 11,000 jobs added in just the last four years. I am confident that this work will continue to create a healthy economy in Wyandotte County and help us find new opportunities for the affected GM employees.”

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UG holds public hearings on three developments

The Northwest STAR bond district, with American Royal site.
(Project drawing from UG agenda)

The Unified Government held three public hearings on developments on Thursday, June 15, and there were not very many public comments.

The larger projects, the American Royal and Village East developments, went by with few comments. There were more public comments on widening a redevelopment district for the Argentine fast-food project.

No action was taken on the American Royal and Village East development projects; that will be considered later, according to UG officials.

American Royal project

The American Royal project and northwest STAR bond district is located south of Parallel Parkway, roughly 110th to 118th, according to Jon Stephens, interim director of economic development for the UG. There is also a portion of the district north of Parallel. The area to the south would get state and local STAR bonds, while the area to the north would get state only.

Stephens said the sources of the $165 million American Royal project are $80 million from net STAR bond proceeds; $80 million from private contributions from the developer; and $5.3 million from other, non-UG sources. The construction costs are estimated at $91 million. Site work is expected to cost about $21 million, and public infrastructure, about $19 million.

The American Royal site is on 118th Street near Delaware Parkway.

Korb Maxwell of Polsinelli said the project is a true public-private partnership, with partners including the UG, state of Kansas, and many charitable business owners, as well as the American Royal. He said it would be an anchor and base for agriculture in Kansas, and “a big front door that says Kansas is open for business when it comes to agriculture.”

The Village East STAR bond district. (Project drawing from Olsson Associates, in UG agenda)

The site plan for Village East. The U.S. Soccer Training facility is on the upper right, with the Legends Auto Plaza in the upper left part of the green area. Other developments are to the south of it. Schlitterbahn waterpark is on the right side of the map. (Drawing from the UG agenda)

Village East STAR bond district

Doug Bach, UG administrator, said the Village East district has been approved for some years, and a few years ago was broken into different project areas. He also said reauthorization of the STAR bond law recently allowed the development of the American Royal and the Schlitterbahn expansion to continue.

Stephens said this concerns project areas 2B and 3 of the Village East district. According to the UG agenda, the total project cost of area 2B is $40.2 million, plus land acquisition and loan interest. The STAR bond net proceeds are estimated at $22.9 million. Project area 2B is described as having a hotel and five retail or commercial facilities.

According to documents in the UG agenda, project areas 2B and 3 are expected to attract about 2.8 million visitors a year, including 1.4 million from out of state, spending $265 million.

Richard Napper of EPR Properties said since they started discussing this project about five years ago, there has been the addition of Fenton Nissan, Victory Ford and Chrysler dealership, a pre-owned car store under construction, a gas station and convenience store, a car wash and restaurant, the Dairy Farmers of America world business headquarters, a site for a 40,000-square-foot HCA medical office building with completion scheduled in 12 to 18 months, and the U.S. Soccer National Training facility.

The 2B area will include a Frontier Justice store, a Jeep terrain course sponsored by Chrysler and Jeep, and a hotel next to U.S. Soccer facility, he said. In addition, two retail sites next to it are planned. On the corner, under construction, Freddy’s fast-food burger restaurant is planned, he said.

“There are a lot of users out there in prior years who we could not attract to this site, but we are today,” Napper said. “It has been a lot of grinding and hard work, and we have sold on the success of Wyandotte County, both west of I-435, east of I-435, and on the overall vision and success of this project.”

Napper said there are a lot of new stores or attractions coming to the area south of the Dairy Farmers of America building.

It is about 375,000 square feet of primarily national anchor tenants, being sought after by every community in Kansas City, he said. The largest of the group is 200,000 square feet, he said. There are not many 200,000 square feet retail tenants that are financially solvent any more, and these tenants are, he said. He said they met with the UG’s planning director last week. However, Napper did not mention the name of the business.

There are letters of intent and negotiations ongoing in an area to the south of this property under discussion, he said.

Diners, Dives and Drive-ins Celebrity Grinders has offered a plan to put the next Grinders location with a live music venue in two brick buildings on State Avenue near 98th, he said.

The only public comment on this Village East plan was from Jonas Cruz, who said the development looks nice, but wondered why not bring something to the rest of the community. While he likes the development, he asked why have they forgotten the rest of the county, as they pay taxes, also.

Mayor Mark Holland said this Village East development has been a long time coming, and he appreciates their efforts in fully developing the site, creating some new destination opportunities for the community.

The Argentine fast-food project is west of 18th Street Expressway and south of Metropolitan Avenue. (Drawing from UG agenda)

Argentine fast-food project

With an 8-0 vote, the UG Commission unanimously passed an amendment to the Metropolitan Redevelopment District, following a public hearing.

The amendment widens the district to include the area in which the fast-food restaurants would be located. Commissioner Ann Murguia, who is executive director of the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association, did not vote on it. The project is proposed by the Argentine Betterment Corp., and Ferguson Properties is the developer.

The UG Commission has not yet approved the $3.3 million Argentine fast-food project; it may come before the commission at a later date. The project has a $1.2 million federal grant, and if approved, pay-as-you-go tax-increment financing, community improvement district sales tax, and financing of $500,000 from the UG that would be paid back within the life of the TIF and CID, estimated at 16 years.

A 4,000-square-foot building for two restaurants, with an 1,800-square-foot restaurant are planned west of 18th Street Expressway, south of Metropolitan Avenue. The proposed restaurants are not far from a Walmart Neighborhood Market and a Save-a-Lot store on Metropolitan.

Mario Escobar and Micah King spoke in favor of the development. Escobar said meetings have been held with community groups, most of them support this project, and they think it will help the neighborhood economically. It will provide jobs, he said. Some of the jobs would be held by youth.

King pointed out these restaurants will be within walking distance for elderly residents, many of whom have no access to vehicles.

Gloria Martinez said she had strong reservations to the project, citing traffic concerns with a nearby school and health concerns because of fast food. They would not be well-paying jobs, she believes. “We deserve better,” she said.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan asked why they were not building on existing pads near the Walmart development, and he was told by Maxwell that it is because the tenants right now only want to build on the site they selected. Once the fast-food restaurants go in, and traffic to the area increases, they hope to find tenants for the pad sites.

Commissioner Harold Johnson asked about the $500,000 upfront cash contribution from the UG, which will be paid back in the future. Maxwell said it is based on projections. Bach said the UG is projecting that about 16 years into the project, it will all be paid back.

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