Archive for Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Companies poised to buy in Urban-Hess

December 22, 1999

A Tonganoxie company and a Basehor firm have agreed to purchase property in Urban Hess Business Park from the Leavenworth Port Authority.

Everlasting Specialties, a Tonganoxie dried-flower company, has agreed to buy a 10,000-square-foot spec building in the park.

"We need to be in by June, when the harvest is coming in," said Steve LaForge, one of the owners. "It will be quite the luxury to have this much room."

Everlasting Specialties works out of the 130-year-old former Tonganoxie railroad depot, as well as three other buildings.

Also on tap in the business park is a new building that will house the Cabinet Shop of Basehor, a custom cabinet-making operation.

Co-owner Kenneth Lindsley said he anticipates construction would begin in several months on a 10,000- to 12,000-square foot structure on two lots.

"It would be nice in the spring," Lindsley said. "It wouldn't be any earlier than that spring to summer."

Activity in the park in northeast Tonganoxie was met with applause by Pat Albert, president of the local chamber of commerce.

"That's a nice thing to end the year with," Albert said.

According to Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development, the price of the two lots is $37,500, and the spec building's price is set at $275,000.

"It's exciting for everybody," Carlson said. "We built that building to attract an existing company."

The spec building which consists primarily of a building shell with utilities was completed in July 1998.

Once the two lots are sold to the cabinet company, Carlson said, that firm has a year to construct a building. The owners must submit plans to the Leavenworth Port Authority for approval.

"This is really the first stage," Carlson said.

Carlson said the pending sale of the building and the two lots prompted the Port Authority board to agree to perform work in other areas of the park, including roads and infrastructure improvements.

LaForge of Everlasting Specialties said the spec building could be expanded by 15,000 square feet.

"We're just growing so fast that we have to take a big step," said LaForge, who owns the business with his wife, Cindy, and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Jim and Kara Bennett.

Soon, work will begin on adding offices and production areas to the building, LaForge said.

"We're hoping that the building gains us a lot of efficiency, and we will have to increase employment," LaForge said.

Much of the company's success stems from the Internet. Everlasting Specialties offers two web pages: tfdepot.com for wholesalers and thewreathdepot.com for retail customers.

"We have exceeded projections so far this year," LaForge said. "It's exciting."

The company plans to increase its inventory to include more items for the home and indoor gardening.

The future of the depot building is in question, LaForge said.

"Our intentions are to try to keep the building," he said.

It is possible the city is interested in developing a visitor center there, according to LaForge and Chris Eppley, city administrator.

"We would love nothing more than to purchase and rehabilitate it as a historic facility," Eppley said.

But he hasn't approached the city council with any plans.

Once the Cabinet Shop of Basehor completes its building, the company's headquarters will move to Tonganoxie, said Lindsley, who along with his wife purchased the business two years ago. The company now employs 20 people. The plan is for that to increase, Lindsley said.

"We're trying to make the business a better business, more efficient," he said.

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