Development news & Updates

Friday, July 20, 2007

O'Reilly coming to Jackson

Ground has been broken for an O'Reilly Auto Parts at 615 E. Jackson Blvd. in Jackson. The auto parts retailer should be operating out of its new location sometime in September, O'Reilly spokesman David Turney said from the corporate headquarters in Springfield, Mo.

P&Z denies apartments, day care

The Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission turned down a request to construct townhouse apartments on the north side of the city and voted against a church's plan to operate a day care and preschool.

The commission voted 7-0 against a request to construct five two-story townhouse apartments on Hunter's Lane and Boulder Crest Drive. One commissioner, Scott Rhodes, abstained because of a conflict of interest. Nobody spoke on behalf of the project, but five residents of the surrounding area made statements to the commission.

"My largest investment is my home," said Stan Emendorfer of Hunter's Lane. "I take a lot of pride in its appearance, and the fact that I am faced with having apartments in my front yard is disheartening."

Bo Shatz, who owns a house on Hunter's Lane, and the other residents against the project say the property was originally sold to them as residential, then zoned commercial later. Although they did not agree with the rezoning, they said they would rather have office buildings built in the area than apartment buildings.

"We have a landlocked subdivision with one outlet," said Paul James of Boulder Crest Drive. "We already have traffic problems. We don't need more."

The developer's absence from the proceedings made the decision easier for the commission. "It's important for developers to be present to take questions about the project," commission vice president Bill Hinkley said. "It affects neighbors, and we need to know exactly what is happening with developments."

In the second hearing, Zack Strong, pastor of Christ Church of the Heartland, 720 Bertling St., spoke on behalf of the church's request for a special-use permit to operate a 60-child day care and preschool scheduled to be completed in late August. But after hearing opposition from 10 residents of the area and others, the commission unanimously voted against the proposal.

Dr. Donald Jung and several other residents of the area said they believe the church has "lied," and intends to use the new addition as a preschool through eighth-grade school, which would be against regulations of the residential zone.

"Their approach to this project has been build it first and then claim the resources are there, so just rezone it," said Dr. Donald Jung said in a statement to the commission. "It is and always has been the church's intention to operate a school."

Many of the other residents claimed the road was already too dangerous.

"On Sundays and Wednesday nights there is an added amount of traffic that we accept," said Scotts Lane resident Julie Tipton. "However, if you add a 60-child day care to the daily traffic it will be too much."

Seeking tenants for K's building

K's Merchandise at 371 S. Broadview St. closed just after the first of this year, and efforts to find a new purchaser or tenant have been transferred from a New York firm and handed over to a local Cape Girardeau real estate company. Tom Kelsey, commercial broker for Lorimont Place, said he has been appointed the exclusive listing broker.

The 98,121-square-foot building was originally built as a Central Hardware store and later purchased by K's Merchandise, which occupied the building for many years. The retail chain fell into financial difficulties and was liquidated. The building features seven acres with a large off-street parking lot and location just off South Kingshighway.

Kelsey said his method of marketing would be similar to what he has used for other properties, including creating local, regional and national awareness of the availability of the building. Lorimont also networks with other commercial brokers outside the region who often represent prospective buyers and tenants who want to locate here. He said he would also be teaming with local chamber officials for any possible businesses that could have interest in locating there.

Commissioners approve help for Town Plaza project

The Cape Girardeau County Commission voted unanimously to dedicate some county sales-tax revenue to repay loans for the renovation of the old Sears building.

The 40-year-old former retail store on William Street in Cape Girardeau is now home to National Assets Recovery Service, or NARS, a call center. But renovations to the building, owned by Greater Missouri Builders, will cost about $4 million more than NARS and other tenants will pay in rent.

The Cape Girardeau City Council has already approved a 100 percent property tax abatement for new building improvements and a 50 percent reduction for the existing building. The council also approved a Community Improvement District for the Town Plaza Shopping Center that increased sales tax by 1 percent on goods sold by retailers.

The city is committing about two-thirds of any increase in sales-tax receipts to repaying loans for the project, or about $1 million. On Tuesday, city officials had asked the county to dedicate half of any increased revenue under the county's half-cent general revenue sales tax.

According to Commissioner Jay Purcell, the cost to the county will be about $171,000.

After renovations, NARS is expected to employ 400 to 500 people.

Purcell said the county's funds overwhelmingly come from sales-tax money and in passing the ordinance the county will receive more such revenue because of NARS' jobs.

Commissioner Larry Bock said that when the county helps the people, most of the time it is through businesses.

New business bringing 50 jobs

SIKESTON - A new company will mean some 50 new jobs for Sikeston and Southeast Missouri.

Simon Halliday, general manager and owner, has announced his company, Ace Building Systems, which manufactures floor, wall and roof panels for residential, multifamily and light commercial buildings, will fill the industrial site at 821 W. Wakefield. The building previously housed Heritage Homes.

Halliday, who is from Sydney, Australia, said Ace Building Systems searched nationwide before deciding to locate its first American manufacturing plant in Sikeston.

In moving to Sikeston, Ace Building Systems is making a $1.4 million investment in the community, bringing in equipment and locating at least a dozen of its officials. On Monday, Halliday said, workmen will begin moving machinery into the 110,000-square foot building.

At the Wakefield site, the company will custom build wall panels. By doing it in a plant, the general manager explained the machinery can efficiently and precisely cut and assemble the panels, which are then taken to the site to be erected into a house. The company will provide an on-site construction crew or if the builder has a crew, they will be trained in the process.

"Basically in 60 days, the builder can give the homeowner the keys to their custom home," said Halliday.

The efficiency in the construction allows Ace Building Systems to reduce waste, thus reducing costs, he stated. Also, he said, the manufacturing process can ensure quality.

The factory workers are expected to earn about $12 an hour plus benefits. In addition the company offers a program to encourage employee home ownership and is currently working with Regions Bank to provide financing for the homes which will be built through the company.

While the Sikeston plant is the first for Ace Building Systems, Halliday predicted another two may open in the next 12 months.



Culver's coming to Cape

Rick and Barb Geiss from Wisconsin are bringing a Culver's to Cape Girardeau at 295 N. Kingshighway in early October. Ground will be broken toward the end of June.

Culver's restaurants are known for their frozen custard and butterburgers.

The restaurant will staff up to 75 people, 20 to 25 of whom will be full-time, according to Rick Geiss.


New highway project opened

A project to upgrade the existing two-lane highway to four lanes between Kennett and Hayti and the replacement of several bridges and culverts along the route is now open.

The work took seven years to complete and "close to $70 million invested in the road and St. Francis River bridge, said Kevin Keith, MoDOT chief engineer. "It's already making a difference in economic development and safety in the region."

Shelton said this final segment of the project opened July 9.

Freight service opens for truckers

A freight service that formerly operated through another local carrier in the area has begun doing its own trucking in Cape Girardeau.

Vitran Express is a less-than-truckload service, meaning its shipments average 1,600 pounds. The company began making deliveries from the new trucking terminal at 4178 Highway K.

Vitran offers service throughout Canada and the United States, using its own infrastructure and exclusive partners.

The company assists people who have distribution warehouses in the area, picking up and delivering raw material or finished products weighing 100 to 22,000 pounds. It specializes in next-day delivery within a primary service area of 20 states in the Midwest, and two- and three-day delivery throughout the rest of the country.

Vitran has just has five local drivers, said Doug Scheper, the company's local account manager, adding that he anticipates hiring five to 10 more employees as the company continues to grow.

Vitran is headquartered in Toronto and is the largest carrier of moderate-sized loads in Canada.

Local commercial real estate broker Tom Kelsey of Lorimont Place Ltd. handled the lease transaction of the 3.5-acre property. It is a 6,500-square-foot facility with an 18-door cross dock.

Originally built and used by Elfrink Truck Lines in the early 1970s and most recently used by TNT Holland Trucking, the Cape Girardeau property has a freight warehouse, offices and truck shop area.


Area wins $5 million jobs grant

Southeast Missouri will receive $5 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor for jobs and economic development, labor secretary Elaine Chao announced.

The funds are part of the department's Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, or WIRED, initiative. Twelve other regions across the nation will receive $5 million each for the initiative.

The purpose of the grant is to bring together the work force, education and economic development of the 14 counties in Southeast Missouri. The program will develop innovative technologies and focus on higher productivity, foster entrepreneurship and business growth. Its intent is to further develop talent to meet existing needs and encourage new business startups, according to the Southeast Missouri WIRED partners.

Each governor was allowed to submit two grant proposals to compete for the third generation of WIRED grants. There were 70 applicants, Sutherland said.

The money will be disbursed over a three-year period, according to Mitch Robinson, director of the Cape Girardeau Area Magnet industrial recruiting association. Robinson and Sutherland are members of the Workforce Investment Board, which along with the alliance will govern the local WIRED initiative. The labor department, civic organizations, academic institutions and business leaders will also be part of the leadership committee.

During the first year, the committee will work with economic development leaders like the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission and the Bootheel Regional Planning Commission to identify the businesses that could be sustained and expanded in the counties.

U.S. Sen. Kit Bond said Southeast Missouri has taken some blows in recent years with the tornado in Caruthersville and the loss of manufacturing jobs. He said the WIRED initiative will rectify some of the damage. "I am confident it will be a great boost for the economy," he said.

The industries that will be targeted in the region are the ones with the fastest projected growth. Those include but are not be limited to manufacturing, health care, biofuels, transportation, agribusiness and tourism.

Valuation of county hits $1 billion

An 11.1 percent increase in residential appraisals helped push the total taxable value of property in Cape Girardeau County over $1 billion for the first time, during this year's property reassessment.

Under state law, county assessors must set values for all real property every two years. The new values determine whether property-tax rates rise or fall within the limits set by law and, for school districts, play a role in determining the amount of state aid.

At the end of the last reassessment cycle in 2005, the total for Cape Girardeau County was $894.7 million. While a portion of the increase is a result of new construction, most of it stems from rising property values.

Along with the 11.1 percent rise in residential values, commercial property values rose 6.4 percent. Representatives of area real estate brokers said those increases reflect the area's market, showing healthy growth.

Blunt signs bill that promotes local agriculture

SIKESTON - Gov. Matt Blunt signed an economic development bill aimed at promoting agriculture in Southeast Missouri's Bootheel region.

The legislation allows biodiesel facilities to qualify for the state's biodiesel producer incentives with feedstock purchased from out of state. The change ensures Southeast Missouri biodiesel facilities are not required to purchase feedstock from hundreds of miles away in order to qualify for the biodiesel incentives. After the change, these facilities can purchase feedstock from nearby facilities in Illinois or Kentucky, where many Bootheel soybeans are processed, and still qualify for the incentives.

The legislation also creates the Missouri Rice Advisory Council. The Council will work to ensure that Missouri rice remains a competitor in the global marketplace by introducing measures to help balance the equally important interests of rice production and rice bio-research.

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