Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Urban Hess a hub of construction activity

March 21, 2001

The rate of development in Urban Hess Business Center in northeast Tonganoxie has been phenomenal in the past year.

"It has been far, far from what we expected," said Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development.

Recently, the Leavenworth County Port Authority, which owns all but 29 acres in the 65-acre Urban Hess, has received numerous calls inquiring about purchasing land in business park. Urban Hess is on U.S. Highway 24-40 at Laming Road.

Inquiries are coming from the manufacturing sector, as well as other facets of the business community.

Carlson expects the recent construction and interest in the park to continue.

"When a lot of people build, more people will want to come," he said. "That's a more accurate adage than the movie one 'if you build it, they will come.' Success breeds success which seems to create more activity."

With that in mind, Urban Hess Business Center has been chosen as the home of four businesses in the past year. An Overland Park developer, Steve Kelly, owns the front 29 acres and has plans of his own. Kelly purchased the land last year for $400,000. His coming commercial and light industrial development is known as Highland Ridge.

Currently, Urban Hess includes two buildings. One is occupied by Everlasting Specialties, a Tonganoxie-based manufacturer-distributor for floral products. Everlasting Specialties was the first business to move to the park. The company purchased a spec building and moved into it last summer.

"Virtually nothing happened until we built that building in July of '99," Carlson said.

The building sat for six months before there was any serious interest in buying it. The Port Authority had three potential buyers at that point: Everlasting Specialties, Basehor Cabinet Company and S&S Steel Alloy.

So, the Port Authority built another building for S&S Steel Alloy.

Another planned addition to the Urban Hess family is Right Choice Pharmacy, which will provide mail-order pharmaceuticals.

Construction just started on a pharmaceutical company's 10,000-square-foot building. Co-owner Jim Aldrich said that the structure would be similar to the existing building owned by Everlasting Specialties. The new business would contract with various pharmacies to fill prescriptions.

A retail greenhouse also plans to move into Urban Hess, likely in the next six to eight weeks. Plans call for a retail selling area, as well as a separate greenhouse.

As the business park continues to grow, the port authority continues its plans for infrastructure improvements.

The port authority plans to install another street. Carlson predicted that half of the available lots would be sold before the final street is complete. The going rate for land in Urban Hess is $20,000 per acre.

The port authority, which has been an essential entity in developing Urban Hess, 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.

The Port Authority purchased land for the Tonganoxie business park in 1989 from the former owner of the land, Urban Hess.

"Our next step is to build another building," Carlson said. "It's my hope that it won't sit for six months before it is sold, like the last spec building."

Having available buildings an important marketing tool, he said. Many companies that look into purchasing land in the business center don't have the physical capacity to build their own building.

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