Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Chris Morrow, mayor, used the annual State of the City address on March 2 to make a major announcement.  City hall council chambers was filled to capacity, with standing room only – attendees spilling out into the city hall foyer.
The big news was delivered near the end of Morrows speech, when he said, “I am excited to announce that, at the March 7th council meeting, the council will be considering the next steps necessary to establish a new presence east of interstate 35.”
This announcement brought applause from the crowd, after which Morrow continued, “The city has been approached by the fine folks at Day3, LLC and VanTrust Real Estate. We’re interested in developing a nearly 300 acre mixed use retail and industrial project on the southeast corner of I-35 and 175th street.”
After a brief pause for a second round of applause, he continued, “At the March 7 meeting, council will consider this and, I suspect, approve it.”
The title of the mayor’s speech was “Operation G.R.O.W.”
At the start of the speech, he had explained the acronym stood for Goals – Readiness – Opportunities – Win.
“One of our most important goals for 2016 is to secure land through property annexation, which is outlined in our recently adopted growth management strategy,” said Morrow.
Annexation of properties near the Intermodal and Gardner Airport were described as targeted short term growth areas.
Morrow provided some specific detail of the city’s plans to annex and develop additional properties.
He said, “We’ll strive to develop around our two I-35 interchanges at 175th street and 191st street and Gardner road. Both areas currently contain commercial development and will be supported by the development of medical facilities and other uses, such as hotels, shopping, restaurants, as well as distribution facilities, manufacturers and other commercial uses.”
Morrow mentioned the new Orscheln Farm and Home store under construction on the northwest corner of 188th St. and S. Gardner Road. The retail operation plans to open in Spring 2016.
Residential developments, including Nottingham Apartments, Moonlight Park and Copper Springs were also identified as signs of positive growth.
Chris Morrow, mayor, announced a proposed mixed use development on the Southeast corner of the 175th St. and I-35 interchange during his State of the City address last week. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Chris Morrow, mayor, announced a proposed mixed use development on the Southeast corner of the 175th St. and I-35 interchange during his State of the City address last week. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz


Morrow indicated that the voters 63 percent approval of a half cent sales tax was an endorsement of the city’s vision.
An economic development incentive policy is being completed which the mayor said includes provisions to ensure businesses meet the terms of our agreements.
“If they don’t meet the terms, they don’t receive the incentives. We will not allow citizens tax dollars to be at risk as we pursue economic development opportunities,” Morrow said.
The city’s recent re-branding efforts were described as a “necessary step” that visually represents progress made to the public.
Another announcement was that the city’s website will go live with a new design by the end of next month. The new website will feature new tools and interactive enhancements.
Noting the city’s focus on good fiscal stewardship, the mayor noted a ‘grant coordinator’ had been hired to seek out grant money to help expand financial capacity, complete more projects and better leverage tax dollars.
In conclusion,  the mayor said that the efforts of citizens and governing body working together as a team would result in Gardner becoming “one of the most influential and prosperous cities in the state of Kansas.”