Van Trust Real Estate Development is considering the development of a business park in the Little Blue Valley. The development would support the community’s goals of creating higher quality jobs which will help increase the median household income and providing an increase in the tax base. Due to the size and scope of the projects, many questions have been raised and this information has been prepared in an effort to answer many of those questions.
Q: How long has this project been in discussion?
A: Over the last decade, conversations have been held with a number of developers to gauge their interest in building speculative industrial space in Independence. The first meeting with Van Trust Real Estate Development was held in 2016. They asked for information on any sites in Independence that would support a multi-building development project. After review of all potential sites, the location along Little Blue Parkway (north of RD Mize Road) was selected as the most viable due to accessible utilities, available land that was for sale at a price that was reasonable, and proximity to Interstate 70 (1.5 miles).
Q: What is being proposed?
A: Two buildings (270,000 and 202,500 square feet) would be construction on a 36 acre site. These buildings are a reduction in size of 16.5% over earlier plans. The buildings are designed for use by light manufacturers and companies needing limited warehouse distribution space for their operations. The north and south sides of the buildings would be designed for public access with architectural features and landscaping to enhance their appearance. Truck docks would be placed in the interior between the two buildings.
Q: Why was this particular site selected for this development?
A: The development of industrial commercial space typically requires access to interstate highways. This location is 1.5 miles from I-70 with 4 lane access via the Little Blue Parkway. The site is also designated for future within the City of Independence Comprehensive Plan as a business park. The 34 acres included within the initial site has also been listed commercially for sale.
Q: Why are these buildings sized the way they are?
A: The size of the buildings is determined by a couple of factors. One is the ability to have enough flexibility to meet the space requirements of a major employer who may need the entire space or a series of smaller companies who would go into subdivided space within the same building. The other is that the economies of scale help keep lease rates at or below market averages so that the buildings have the best opportunity to attract tenants.
Q: Why do we need a business park?
A: Currently, Independence has a 4% vacancy rate for industrial space with limited capacity due to the age of those buildings to attract manufacturers who require modern facilities. Without adequate industrial space available, we lose the opportunity to attract new jobs and retain existing companies who need to expand and relocate from their existing buildings.
Q: What is the difference between a business park and an industrial park?
A: There isn’t a true definition of either but there is in relationship to City of Independence zoning codes. Both have the ability to serve as a site for larger commercial space for industrial use. The big differentiator is that business parks have more flexibility on use and can include some limited service and retail businesses which would not be allowable in an area with an industrial park designation.
Q: What limits the proposed buildings from being used solely for warehouse/distribution?
A: Under the Unified Development Ordinance, buildings within a business park designation cannot have more than 60% of their floorplate dedicated to warehouse distribution uses. The original design of a cross dock facility has also been eliminated with a reduced number of docks only on one side of each building.
Q: What does the 1999 Little Blue Development Plan and 2018 Comprehensive Plan say about this type of development?
A: The Little Blue plan which was adopted in 1999, indicated that the valley could support approximately 2 million square feet of industrial space. In the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, an area of approximately 250 acres is designated for business park use and that includes the site where Van Trust Development is proposing to build the initial two buildings. A portion of the land within the 250 acres along Jackson Drive was zoned industrial nearly 40 years ago and there are currently industrial businesses
Q: What incentives are being provided for this project?
A: The Independence City Council in August 2019 approved a Chapter 100 Bond which provides real property tax abatement and sales tax abatement for construction materials for a period of 20 years. The bonds are not an obligation of the City and the City assumes no financial risk for the project. This project was also reviewed and unanimously approved by the newly created Incentives Review Committee which includes taxing districts who would be impacted by the abatement. The total amount of the abatement is based upon the final total capital investment but at no time does it ever exceed 20% of the total project cost.