Cape Girardeau buys land for business park

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Heavy equipment moves rocks and dirt Monday, November 19, 2012 at the future site of an industrial park along Interstate 55. (ADAM VOGLER)

The city of Cape Girardeau has purchased from the Southeast Missouri University Foundation land that was home to a demonstration farm. It will be used for future business development.

The city is buying about 247 acres, at the Interstate 55-East Main Street/LaSalle Avenue interchange, at $25,718 per acre, for a total cost of $6 million.

The purchase was announced Wednesday at a news conference at city hall.

Mayor Harry Rediger speaks at a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 announcing the city of Cape Girardeau has purchased 247 acres of land from Southeast Missouri State University at Interstate 55 and LaSalle Avenue for $6 million. With Rediger are, from left, city council members Loretta Schneider and Kathy Swan, Southeast Missouri State University president Dr. Ken Dobbins, city manager Scott Meyer and council member Mark Lanzotti. (Fred Lynch)

"There is no question this will make us more competitive now that we have a piece of land to market," said Mayor Harry Rediger.

Citing the area's economic development success in 2012 -- Isle Casino Cape Girardeau, expansions at Procter & Gamble, Nordenia, Spartech and BioKyowa, and construction projects at Saint Francis Medical Center, Southeast Missouri State University and Cape Girardeau public schools -- Rediger said the city's focus has been, and will continue to be, economic development.

A down payment of $480,000 will be made by The Greater Cape Girardeau Benevolent Association, a group of investors that has been buying and selling property for business development since the 1960s, previously was known as the Greater Cape Development Corp.

The city will make annual payments of $460,000 for 12 years using a portion of revenue it receives from Isle Casino Cape Girardeau. The payments will amount to between 11 percent and 12 percent of the city's annual revenue from admissions fees the casino pays to the state based on its projected visitor traffic.

The placement of two billboards for use by the university also will be allowed along the property.

The land is best suited for distribution centers, light manufacturing and technology-related businesses, Rediger said. Portions also may be ideal for retail development. The area isn't likely to attract industrial projects because it does not have railroad or river access, he said.

Talks about developing a 400-acre technology park that would attract businesses related to the study of life sciences began at Southeast Missouri State University in the early 2000s but never came to fruition. The property included acreage on both sides of the interstate, and the university will retain ownership of property on the west side of I-55. Southeast's demonstration farm was moved near Gordonville in 2008 and the property has been leased for farming in recent years.

A recent increase in inquiries from industries contemplating a Cape Girardeau location has had local economic development officials hunting to find suitable sites. Nash Road, which offered access to Interstate 55, a river port and a railroad, is no longer an option.

In recent years, large companies, interested by the location and area's workforce, couldn't overcome concerns about the Nash Road property's position in a floodplain, even though it is protected by a levee. And the soil is not desirable for building.

The Greater Cape Girardeau Benevolent Association, formed in 1959 by a group of businessmen who bought shares in the company, created the 480-acre industrial park along Nash Road. Through the 1960s, '70s and '80s the area attracted businesses, but after the Mississippi River floods in 1993 and 1995, outside companies hesitated to locate there. The company sold its remaining Nash Road property in March for farm ground.

Earlier this year, Do it Best Corp. cited flooding as a reason behind its decision to move its distribution center, which has been on Nash Road for 40 years. The business broke ground this summer on a 100-acre tract at the Business, Education and Technology Park in Sikeston, Mo., after officials said they couldn't find a suitable site in Cape Girardeau.

"We intend, depending on the project and the number of jobs, that one of the incentives will be a very affordable land price," Rediger said.

He said the city will work with Magnet and other area partners in recruiting businesses to the site. It will seek grants to help fund infrastructure including streets, water, sewer and electric service.

The Greater Cape Girardeau Benevolent Association will remain active, Rediger said, and the city will continue searching for sites more suitable for industrial development.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

LaSalle Avenue and Interstate 55, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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