February 9, 2016

Council considers abatement, annexation for warehouse development

The area boxed in red is the proposed site for a 1.1 million square-foot distribution development, the International Business Park of Kansas City. The yellow area denotes Gardner city limits. The blue denotes the BNSF intermodal and logistics park in Edgerton.  Graphic courtesy of the city of Gardner

The area boxed in red is the proposed site for a 1.1 million square-foot distribution development, the International Business Park of Kansas City. The yellow area denotes Gardner city limits. The blue denotes the BNSF intermodal and logistics park in Edgerton. Graphic courtesy of the city of Gardner

Danedri Thompson
Members of the Gardner City Council would like to see a cost-benefit analysis before considering a 75 percent tax abatement and other incentives related to a potential distribution and warehouse development at 183rd Street and Gardner Road.
Zimmer Companies made the request for tax incentives, including an abatement and infrastructure upgrades, in a January letter to city administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee.
The project, to be called International Business Park of Kansas City, or IBPKC, would include 1.1 million square-feet of development on approximately 80 acres.
By comparison, Midwest Commerce Center is a planned, 155-acre development capable of supporting more than 2.1 million square-feet of warehouse development in five buildings. MCC is home to the 1 million square-foot Coleman Warehouse, and the development received a 50 percent abatement.
The city’s current policy limits tax abatements to 50 percent, but Tracey Mann, vice president of industrial sales and leasing for Zimmer, said a 75 percent tax abatement is crucial to the success of the IBPKC project.
Council members discussed the proposal during a June 10 work session.
Under the proposal, the city would provide a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement; agree to pave Waverly Road to heavy haul standards within the next two years;  allow trucks of all sizes to access the north side of the property via parts of 191st Street, 183rd Street, and Gardner Road; reduce city fees including the street excise tax, public improvement inspection fee, and the park fee in lieu of dedication; and assist in funding the extension of utilities to the project.
“If we don’t have these things, we’re at a competitive disadvantage,” Mann told the council.
Mann told the council he anticipates the project will provide 450-500 jobs with $12-$15 million in payroll. With a 75 percent abatement, he said the project would pay between $18.4 million and $23 million in taxes over the course of 20 years. Of that, the city of Gardner would receive between $3.9 million and $5 million in tax revenues from the project in 20 years.
Mann listed a series of distribution projects approved in the last few years, including a 450,000 square-foot Home Depot warehouse in Topeka; the 400,000 square-foot Pac Sun warehouse in Olathe; and the 446,000 square-foot Kimberly-Clark warehouse in New Century; that he believes would be a match for IBPKC, if it were developed.
Heath Freeman, council member, said several of those projects were financed with 50 percent abatements.
“There seems to be a lot of development at the 50 percent-to-60 percent level. From my perspective, we really have to ask if 75 percent is really necessary,” Freeman said.
The proposed industrial development’s location is contiguous with Edgerton next to the BNSF intermodal project, and the requests mirror incentives Edgerton is offering. He did not say why the company requested annexation into Gardner rather than into Edgerton.
Council member Steve Shute, who attended the work session via telephone, said several of those cities have diverse tax bases and can afford to offer large abatements to developers.
“It’s beginning to strike me as ridiculous,” Shute said. “…We’re being told that a 75 percent tax abatement is the only way this is going to be accomplished – take it or leave it. I’m having a hard time with that.”
Todd Mendon, the chief operation office for Big Industrial and a representative of the IBPKC project, told the council there may be some room to negotiate.
“We’re not digging our heels in either,” Mendon said. “We’re open.”
Whatever the city decides, it will set a precedent, Freeman warned.
“It is a bigger issue than what you’re asking now,” he said.
Council members requested a cost-benefit analysis of the project from city staff, and Harrison-Lee said that may take up to two months.


  1. Judith Rogers says:

    With a 75% tax incentive on this Zimmer project the citizens of Gardner, Kansas would only be receiving about $68,000 YEARLY in property taxes for the first 10 years – this amount won’t even pay one half of the community development officer’s salary and benefits and the city has been hiring for that position, a planner, an engineer, a policeman, a tech person and on and on to take care of these thieves. $68,000 a year and citizens will be going into millions of dollars of debt plus having to pay the interest costs and other fees for that debt to take care of these thieves. And you will be letting thousands of trucks into your community and infrastructure costs that will never end along with additional city personnel costs that are astronomical, you will have to pay more for your Rent-A-Fireman program, etc., etc. etc. I am sure these thieves and the city will want them to transfer to Gardner Energy and the citizens will be called upon to pay the transfer fees involved and they will be demanding to get reduced electric rates.

    I sent the following information and more to the City Council yesterday: “I find the parcel no. for the tract of land at the SE corner of 183rd & Waverly contains 77.6 acres. The property is owned by Gardner Property LLC and the land was deeded to them by Unified School Dist. 231 on 12-21-06 and of course, this all occurred right after the annexation vote in November 2006 – how convenient – to me it again shows me how the School Dist. and the city of Gardner and the thieves connive in unison.

    Gardner Property LLC (another good ole LLC that Brownback took so very good care of last year by saying they no longer have to pay state income taxes) was incorporated in December 2006 – again all of the pieces fit together so well. And I find, just as I anticipated, they have been getting their good ole “farm” appraisal on their property and only paying $709.81 in taxes on 77.6 ACRES for 2012 http://taxbill.jocogov.org/retaxbill.aspx?taxYear=2012&parcelID=2F221435-1001

    All the connivers have been working on this deal for MORE than two years and in the meantime in the last six months Gardner citizens now get to pay for increased city administration costs by hiring a community development director, planner, engineer, policeman, tech person and on and on to take care of all of the thieves.

    I get so sick and tired of seeing how my government entities operate. The slime and crime of cronyism government is disgraceful in my opinion which includes the politicians, bureaucrats and the thieves.”

    If citizens go along with slimy, thieving deal and all that it entails then they do deserve the highest city taxes in the County or perhaps the whole state and many, many, many adverse affects. If you enable and support the lowlife thieves, politicians and bureaucrats who help bring these horror stories to you. then you will suffer the costly consequences due to your apathy and ignorance.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    I want to remind citizens that in the time period of around 2002 to 2009 or 2010 your city debt snowballed from around $22 Million to close to $100 Million. So what happened? Your city had to sell off your Fire Dept. and increase your city taxes by 26% and cut city personnel and couldn’t keep up with infrastructure needs and on and on. Morrow campaigned on Drovetta (and many others) hit the citizens with a 26% tax increase and yet he and our City Mgr. are ready for you to get head over hills into further debt and all of this is due to politicians and bureaucrats working for the thieves and showing no fiscal responsibility whatsoever to their average citizens. I said Morrow is no better than what Drovetta and Lehman did to you and he and the City Mgr. have proven that by placing this slimy deal on the table for you. If you, an average citizen, think you have representatives protecting your interests then I think you live in Fairy Land located at around 175th & I-35, Johnson County, Ks. With your huge city debt and school district debt and living with your warehouse/truck/pollution environment , you sure as hell won’t be living in paradise on the prairie by any means

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