Morrow announces retail, industrial development
It was standing room only at the annual State of the City address at Gardner City hall March 3 in the council chambers.
This year’s topic was “Operation G.R.O.W.” and focused on Gardner’s roadmap to economic growth and development.
Mayor Chris Morrow announced a preliminary agreement to develop and annex land at the southeast corner of I-35 and 175th St. The project consists of nearly 300-acre mixed-use retail and industrial development occurring on the southeast corner of I-35 at 175th Street.
“It’s nearly 300 acres,” Morrow said. Once a funding agreement is in place, annexation and development plans can begin. The project consists of nearly 300-acre mixed-use retail and industrial development occurring on the southeast corner of I-35 at 175th Street.
The area had been discussed for future development in the city’s Growth Management Strategy approved in November 2015. The report indicates traffic count at the 175th St. interchange is in excess of 43,400 vehicles per day with 27,700 vehicles exiting and moving west along US-56 and 9,400 vehicles exiting and moving east along 175th.
The development announcement was a part of the Mayor’s address titled “Operation G.R.O.W.” The mayor defined this operation as a coordinated, strategic response with actions designed to change Gardner’s circumstances.
“Focusing on economic development will ensure we diversify our tax base and improve the financial well-being of our citizens,” Morrow said. “Operation G.R.O.W. is our strategy to reaching our economic development objectives.”
Operation G.R.O.W. represents four action steps. They are: G: Goals. R: Readiness. O: Opportunities, and W: Win.
One of the most important goals for 2016 is to secure land through annexation, Morrow stated in his speech. He shared short-term growth areas currently under the annexation process, such as property adjacent to the intermodal and Gardner Airport. The mayor also said completing the city’s Land Development Code Rewrite serves as another goal for 2016.
Morrow stressed the importance of being equipped and shared the many economic development tools the city has completed to attract businesses. Some of the tools he mentioned included the following: utility assessments, Economic Development Incentive Policy, the Growth Management Strategy and new brand identity.
“There will not be another missed opportunity if it is up to me,” Morrow said as he discussed the city’s efforts to bring economic development opportunities to the city. Morrow talked about finding growth opportunities that are best for the city.
And lastly, Morrow identified some of Gardner’s most recent successes, including current residential and commercial development. His big announcement regarding the most recent win, the 300-acre project, will be brought to the city council at the May 7 City Council Meeting for approval of a funding agreement.
“The agreement will provide the city the resources to conduct due diligence, ensuring the best interest of the citizens of Gardner are protected,” Morrow stated.
Morrow closed his speech by asking the community to join Operation G.R.O.W. by taking advantage of the many public involvement opportunities.
“Gardner, we will grow. And, I know, through our continued hard work together as a team, we will complete our mission, and see Gardner become one of the most influential and prosperous cities in Kansas,” he said.
Video of the mayor’s entire State of the City address will be available Friday, March 4, at gardnerkansas.gov.