Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Greg Martinette, president of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation (SWJCEDC), updated the Johnson County Airport Commission on development projects in Gardner and New Century at their Oct. 25 meeting.
Amazon HQ2 bid
Martinette discussed a bid package that was submitted for the Amazon HQ2 project. HQ2 promises jobs with high salaries.
Part of the bid package was a 3D video visualization of potential buildings and layout of a complex stretching from east of I-35 into New Century. The Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation has created this simulation to demonstrate the possibilities available for the Amazon 2nd Headquarters project.
Martinette said Jill McCarthy, commission member, had been heavily involved with preparing and submitting the proposal.
“Everything was delivered last week, and we have some ongoing discussions and have received some follow up. They actually received more than 250 proposals,” said McCarthy by phone.
She said many of those proposals did not meet all the criteria and were being eliminated. She believed this proposal did meet the criteria and would be on the shortened list after those eliminations.
Amazon says that a decision will be made sometime in 2018. McCarthy hopes a shorter list of finalists could be announced as early as January, but added, “We don’t have a firm date at this time.”

Lineage Logistics, Project School
Brad Weisenburger, chairman, shared a statement that he made (at the Oct. 26 Board of County Commissioners) meeting, representing the JCAC’s position on Lineage Logistics.
The statement began by saying New Century has been designated for industrial use since 1973, when the Naval Air Station was turned over to the county. Currently, 400 acres of the property is leased to 70 businesses, utilizing 3 million square feet of space and providing 5,000 private sector jobs.
Weisenburger said these leases were typically long term – 20 to 30 years, with options to extend. He said some were for 50 years.
“Through these land leases, the airport’s operations have been self sufficient for over a decade. This means no county tax dollars are used in operating either of the county’s airports,” he said.
He gave a description of Lineage Logistics operation as a cold storage warehouse and said that it will not manufacture or process chemicals. Anhydrous Ammonia will be used only as a refrigerant in a “closed loop system.”
Weisenburger reviewed the dates that JCAC, the zoning board and BOCC considered and approved the project.
“BOCC discussed the plan in a agenda review session and again at a regular board meeting, and with public input, voted to approve the plan on July 6, 2017. There was an opportunity for public comment at the airport commission, zoning board and BOCC meetings,” he said.
In conclusion Weisenburger said that Lineage Logistics was one of many businesses the commission is working to bring to New Century and is pleased to do so. He said that promoting the benefits of Johnson County to bring more businesses will continue to be a role of the airport commission.
Martinette thanked Weisenburger for the comments and said a project similar to Lineage Logistics had recently been developed at the intermodal in Edgerton.
“There’s a possibility that we could lose that (Lineage) business to them, if this for some reason were not to move forward,” said Martinette. About 840 area residents signed on in objection to the planned construction of a cold storage facility in New Century and property owners nearest the site have filed suit against the county in district court, hoping to halt the construction. Lineage Logistics, LLC, plans to build a 400,000 sq. ft. cold storage food distribution facility just east of Moonlight Road on 159th Street. It will be directly west of the UniLever facility and directly north, across the road from the Johnson County Sheriff’s facility. The primary objection is the storage of a large amount of anhydrous ammonia.

Other projects
Martinette then reviewed the major projects SWJCEDC has been working on this year – CVS Pharmacy is about halfway completed; Dairy Queen opened Oct. 28; Hampton Inn construction is underway; construction of a new car wash and Scooters Coffee will begin soon; Lineage Logistics; and the latest approved development, ‘Project School.”
“We still haven’t been given the go ahead to say the name of the company but they will be building a 600,000 plus square foot facility directly east of the Coleman plant and will employ approximately 250 in manufacturing, assembly, a call center and logistics,” he said.
“Project School” will cost an estimated $38,000,000 dollars to construct, and will eventually employ approximately 250 people by the end of the first three years of operation. This will be the second project located at the Midwest Commerce Center location by L.S. Commercial Realty.