Additional development planned on highway
Additional commercial development for Tonganoxie is planned in the southern portion of Urban Hess Industrial Park.
According to Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development, the Leavenworth Port Authority has accepted an offer from Overland Park developer Steven J. Kelly to purchase 29.75 acres for $400,000. Kelly was out of town this week and not available for comment.
However, Murl Westheffer, a Lawrence Realtor who brokered the deal on Kelly's behalf, said the frontage along the highway would be used for commercial purposes. The northern portion of the land would retain industrial zoning.
"We're very excited about what we have coming to Tonganoxie," Westheffer said.
He said Kelly has developed a general plan of what he hopes will work on the land, but no specifics have been determined.
Carlson said five commercial lots would encompass the south 600 feet, and nine lots to the north would remain industrial.
Chris Eppley, Tonganoxie city administrator, said he's excited about the potential for that land.
"They've talked to a number of different people," Eppley said. "I know that they have been chatting with some folks who do hotels who might be interested because of the location of the (Kansas Speedway) racetrack and because we are basically halfway between the racetrack and the Lawrence airport."
In addition, Eppley said other possibilities for the land that have been discussed include a grocery store, a convenience store or a restaurant.
"As for the rear, I don't really know what they have in mind," he said. "I believe what they've discussed, however, is putting in some smaller offices with warehouse space for plumbers or electricians who are in the service industry. There seems to be some sort of demand for that."
Development of the land for commercial purposes would provide a buffer between the highway and the rest of Urban Hess, Eppley said.
"I think it could very well be a very large boost to the local economy," the city administrator said.
According to Westheffer, Kelly was in banking in Great Bend before working in development in eastern Kansas. His father, Joe Kelly, is the former president of Douglas County Bank in Lawrence.