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Albert Rukwaro
Special to the Gardner News
The city of Gardner, in what one councilmember described as an “annexation bonanza,” annexed almost 500 acres of land south of Interstate 35 during a council meeting Oct. 7.
The city also approved a major development agreement with a developer who plans to build retail, commercial and residential properties on parts of newly annexed lands.
The council approved a motion to annex 82 acres located along the north side of 199th street and south of I-35.
The council also approved a voluntary consent annexation of a series of parcels of land located along 199th street after receiving voluntary annexation requests from several property owners in the unincorporated area.
The 15 tracts cover the area between Gardner Road and Cedar Niles Road along 199th street and cover approximately 307 acres.
The council also approved a voluntary consent annexation for approximately 27 acres of three platted lots and two adjacent un-platted lots located at the corner of 199th street and Gardner Road.
“This is annexation bonanza,” said Rich Melton, councilmember.
During the meeting, the council also approved a resolution approving the execution of a development agreement with Grata Development that will see parts of the newly annexed lands developed into retail, commercial and residential properties.
The council, during its Sept.3 meeting, had approved the annexation of 261 acres on the south side of 175th street and west of Clare Road in a consent agreement. The passage included a clause that gave the city until Oct 31 to come up with a development agreement acceptable to the landowners.
In approving the agreement with Grata Development, the council beat that deadline.
In the development agreement, the developer requested the use of the Community Improvement District (CID), and the option to utilize the Special Benefit District process to help finance the project.
According to Mathew Wolff, finance director, the developer also requested a 75 percent property tax abatement for 10 years on the multi-family properties and the issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB) to finance the project.
The development is expected to include approximately 455,500 square feet of retail, restaurant, convenience store, and office and service space.
The developers expect a retail anchor to take up to 50,000 square feet of space at the development.
Wolff told the council that the development will include three limited service hotels with a total of 200 rooms.
The project proposes 367 single family residences including 168 villas and 11 multi-family buildings containing 424 apartments.
“Under the development agreement, the city would be responsible for making electric, water and sewer improvements in order to serve the property,” Wolff said adding that the developer would be responsible for the natural gas, street and other infrastructure improvements within the project site.
Wolff told the council that at the request of the developer, the city intends to impose a one percent CID sales tax on the commercial portions of the project to reimburse project eligible costs.
The common CID will have a term of 22 years and CID reimbursable project costs will be capped at $11 million. The anchor CID will have a term of 22 years, and the CID reimbursable project cost will be capped at $8 million.
Wolff said the city will be responsible for approximately 4.6 million in sewer improvements, $700,000 in electric improvements and $1.5 million in water improvements.
“It’s a big day for Gardner,” Steve Shute, mayor said.
He said the city will see an impact of almost a quarter billion dollars in property values added to the city’s tax rolls.
He thanked Rob Kirk, fire district No1 chief for helping bring the property owners, developers and city officials together and helping build relationships across the board.
“He started the building bridges group and without him I don’t know if any of this would be possible,” Shute said.
The council went into two ten minute executive sessions during the annexation deliberations. The proposals passed unanimously.