Leavenworth city commissioners took action Tuesday related to economic development projects including a planned industrial park.

Leavenworth city commissioners took action Tuesday related to economic development projects including a planned industrial park.

They approved a real estate and development agreement for the planned industrial park, or business and technology park, on Eisenhower Road.

They also approved an ordinance to rezone property at Fourth and Pawnee streets that is the location of a planned hotel. Commissioners also reached a consensus to advance an ordinance to vacate an alley at Fourth and Pawnee streets for the hotel project. The ordinance will come back before the commission for a final vote.

Also Tuesday, commissioners listened to a request for tax abatement for a grocery store. The proposal concerned the Country Mart at 1920 Spruce St.

Assistant City Manager Taylour Tedder said the current operator of the store plans to retire. The owner of the building where the store is located has the opportunity to take over the operation of the store.

The property owner, Royale Property Management, wants to make $1 million investment to renovate the store.

Under a city economic incentive policy, the property owner may qualify for a 21 percent property tax abatement, Tedder said.

The company requested a 75 percent property tax abatement for 10 years.

Tedder said the policy would allow the commission to grant an exception.

"We need a store at that end of town," Commissioner Charles Raney said.

Raney said, no matter what abatement is granted, he would like a guarantee that the property remains a grocery store for the period of the abatement.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger said he would like for the store remain open. But he said a 75 percent property tax abatement is a "little bit rich."

He suggested using a community improvement district for which money would be generated through an additional sales tax at the store.

"I think that is more fair to our taxpayers," he said.

Commissioner Lisa Weakley said she also cannot support a 75 percent tax abatement.

"That's a non-starter for me," she said.

She suggested negotiating to a figure that is closer to what is called for in the city's policy.

Mayor Nancy Bauder also recommended that the matter be negotiated.

Kevin Kehr, chief financial officer for Royale Property Management, said the 75 percent figure was intended to be a starting point for negotiations.

Commissioners tabled the matter to allow for negotiations between city staff and the company that owns the property.

The real estate and development agreement for the industrial park concerns an 81.91-acre property on Eisenhower Road.

The city will purchase the property from JMK Partners. JMK Partners, along with Leavenworth Excavating and Equipment Company, will develop the site into a shovel-ready business and technology park.

City Manager Paul Kramer said the city will pay about $1.2 million to purchase the land and $8.5 million for the development of the property for a total of $9.7 million.

The county has provided $4.8 million in funding for the project. The city will be responsible for the remaining cost.

JMK Partners submitted a proposal with a $10.6 million price tag. But Kramer said the price has been reduced by $900,000 because the Leavenworth Water Department has agreed to pay the cost of providing water lines to the site.

Preisinger noted that the city has taken over the project after an earlier deal for the development of the industrial park fell through.

Preisinger also noted that the project was the subject of a recent television news story.

The story, which appeared on KSHB Kansas City, Missouri, argued the project "may be a bait-and-switch with taxpayer money for people with government connections to profit."

Preisinger said he did not consider this story to be completely factual.

He said the city put out the project to bid "according to Hoyle."

"This is a good proposal," he said. "It's clean. We need to move forward."

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

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