Ronson Manufacturing Making Plans to Expand Into Former Retail Space on 24 Highway

By Mike Genet – The Examiner

In addition to a planned industrial park in the Little Blue Valley, the city of Independence could also issue industrial bonds to help facilitate Ronson Manufacturing’s move to the former Kmart building at Missouri 291 and U.S. 24.

An ordinance to issue $6.15 million in bonds and approve the development project and tax abatement plan received its first reading at Monday’s City Council meeting. The council likely will vote on the ordinance, as well as more than $37 million in bonds for the industrial park, on Aug. 5.

The council unanimously approved rezoning for Ronson in February. The sheet metal manufacturer, founded in 1976, employs more than 80 people and currently operates in a 50,000-square foot facility at 3000 Jackson Drive, just north of R.D. Mize Road near Little Blue Parkway. It also leases about 55,000 square feet of space in the Geospace Center caves for storage.

According to city documents the Kmart building and adjacent retail strip center will be conveyed to the city, which will then lease it to Ronson. The company, not the city, would bear all responsibility to pay back the bonds.

The tax abatement plan would last through 2030. For the first two years Ronson would pay a fixed payment in lieu of tax equal to the taxes due in 2018. From 2021 on, Ronson would receive 75 percent tax abatement and also make a payment equal to the 2018 payment plus a 2 percent increase in odd years.

Kyle Carver, son of Ronson’s owner, said in January the company could add a few jobs once it makes the move.

“We’re at a crossroads and need to be under one roof,” he said then, adding that he thought taking over the empty building of a former big box retailer “could be a win-win.”

The former Kmart building and adjacent retail strip center had been assessed at $400,000 last year and preliminarily assessed at $836,000 this year, and the proposed improvements project would raise valuation about $350,000, according to city documents.

ENGLEWOOD: The council on Aug. 5 also could approve the petition to establish the Englewood Community Improvement District, which essentially would encompass the Englewood Arts District and would add a 1 percent sales tax within the district.

Revenues would be used for public improvements such as streetscape amenities, signage, banners, landscaping, public artwork and maintenance within the district.

A public hearing on the Englewood CID petition will also take place at the Aug. 5 meeting.