Urban Hess Industrial Park attracts attention
Raw land that has gone virtually untouched is being transformed into what the former owner envisioned an industrial park.
Urban Hess Industrial Park, in northeast Tonganoxie, is named for the former owner of the land, Urban Hess. His intent all along was to have the land used for industrial purposes. He sold the land to the Leavenworth County Port Authority in 1989 for what Gary Carlson, executive director of LAD, said was a "basement rate."
The Port Authority was established in 1969 to actively promote economic development in Leavenworth County. Its role is to provide affordably developed land for manufacturing and non-manufacturing businesses locating or needing to relocate into larger buildings within Leavenworth County.
"Their plan is to sell land and/or buildings to foster economic development," Carlson said.
A few weeks ago, Carlson and Pat Albert met with Hess to let him know what the property was going to be used for and the progress thus far.
"We kind of asked him if what was being done was acceptable," Carlson said.
Hess' goal 40 years ago when he purchased the land was to provide jobs and develop businesses. At the time, his intent was for manufacturing businesses to occupy the land.
"In today's world, the businesses developing in Tonganoxie is more likely to happen with commercial development," Carlson said.
Hess agreed with Carlson and Albert about using part of the property for commercial purposes.
"An industrial property, when it is developed, provides high-paying, technical, professional jobs," said Chris Eppley, Tonganoxie city administrator.
The Urban Hess park totals 65 acres. Originally, the land was divided into five tracts. The northern four tracts were re-platted into 20 smaller lots.
"The smaller industrial use will be beneficial for our community," Eppley said. "If one decides to leave, it won't have nearly a large impact."
Two companies have already bought space from the Port Authority. The first was Everlasting Specialties, a Tonganoxie-based manufacturer-distributor for floral products, which purchased a 10,000-square-foot metal building that the Port Authority constructed in 1998.
Basehor Cabinet Company also has signed a contract with the Port Authority. The company plans to build a 12,000-square-foot cabinet-making factory, which will provide 20 jobs.
Two other companies are negotiating for land with the Port Authority, a commercial printer and a steel producer, Carlson said.
Two weeks ago, the Port Authority accepted an offer from an Overland Park developer to purchase 29 acres in Urban Hess that front along U.S. Highway 24-40. Steve Kelley agreed to purchase the acreage for $400,000. Frontage along the highway will be developed for commercial uses, according to the Tonganoxie city administrator.
"In the last 18 months, we have seen a great deal of activity," Eppley said.
"Things are shaping up nicely."