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Hopes high for new industrial park near Kansas City


Midwest Commerce Center

by Dan Rafter, Editor


In today’s economy, any new commercial construction is welcome. When construction crews begin preparing a site for something as large as a new 155-acre industrial park, the anticipation is even higher. That anticipation is building now at Gardner, Kan., a community of about 17,000 residents located 15 miles south of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Construction crews here began site work in mid-October on the new Midwest Commerce Center, a $90-million industrial park that, when complete, will include five buildings totaling 2.3 million square feet of distribution space. 

It’s a project that construction pros are hoping will provide another financial boost to the Kansas City area. “We are addressing a need for this kind of space in the Kansas City market,” said Paul Licausi, president of Overland Park, Kan.-based LS Commercial Real Estate, one of the co-developers of the Midwest Commerce Center. USAA Real Estate Company of San Antonio, Texas, is the other co-developer of the project. 

The first building at the park will be a 520,000-square-foot speculative warehouse/distribution center that will be built on 26.84 acres. LS Commercial estimates that construction on this building will wrap up in the spring of 2009. The company is currently negotiating with local and state government representatives to create a package of tax abatements, job-training credits and sales-tax exemptions for the project. 

Licausi said that the buildings at the industrial park will all be designed to accommodate large distribution users. “The design from the start of this project has been done with large state-of-the art distribution center facilities in mind,” he said. “We have all the key ingredients you need: access to the highway, a great location in the southwest portion of the Kansas City metro area and a design focusing on large-scale users.” 

As of late November, the Midwest Commerce Center had not yet attracted any formal commitments from tenants. But Licausi said interest in the project is high. He also said that the economic downturn has had little impact on the project. “The economy has not hurt us. Obviously, there are challenges out there. But the demand for a project like this is still high,’ Licausi said. “We are continuing our progress and the originally scheduled pace of our development. We anticipate that we will see good activity at this site. I recognize that there are economic pressures, but Kansas City continues to see very good interest from corporate users for large space distribution.” 

Economic development officials in the area say they hope that projects like the Midwest Commerce Center will help the Kansas City region become a sought-after logistics hub in the Midwest. 

“Other markets including Memphis and Indianapolis have developed as logistics hubs, and it has added significantly to their economy,” said Tom Riderer, president of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp., in a written statement. “We look forward to the development of the logistics industry in the Kansas City market. And we’re so pleased that construction is starting on the first large distribution building in this area.”