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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) [Order this photo]
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.



Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

LaSalle Avenue and Interstate 55, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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Does this mean that the city and SEMO have completely given up on the idea of a technology park and retail at the interchange? Obviously, the recession must have set those plans back significantly. However, I would still like to see Cape Girardeau pursue life science-related jobs and I think it would be great for the region as well.

I also wonders what this means for the surrounding area, as developers have been building subdivisions with upscale homes not far from this site, especially along Cape La Croix Road/County Road 620. It seems like an industrial park at this site would freeze the progress of upscale homes toward the Lasalle Avenue/East Main Street exit in both directions, as there are some nice Jackson subdivisions not far from this site as well. Obviously their priorities aren't the only priorities, but I wouldn't want to buy a $400,000 or $500,000 with a view of a factory. I have to imagine residents of those developments and residential developers that are active in that area will be very interested in what the City of Cape Girardeau has planned for this site now.

-- Posted by SEMO2STL on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 3:18 PM

"City government, industrial development organization team up for industrial site purchase"

"The City of Cape Girardeau has purchased land that was previously home to a demonstration farm from the Southeast Missouri University Foundation for future business development"

Confused. What was the Greater Cape Girardeau Development Corp involvement in this purchase?

-- Posted by huntress2 on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 3:45 PM
Response by Matt Sanders:

That will be explained in our full version of the story. For now we've eliminated that info from the headline to avoid confusion.

are we finally going to get some decent paying jobs in this area or more of the same slave wages that we have around here now.

-- Posted by bagman75 on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 3:53 PM

And where is this money coming from to buy this land?

-- Posted by 314djhh on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 4:36 PM

Also that kind of money spent should be approved by the voters(People).

-- Posted by 314djhh on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 4:37 PM

How can the City claim they won't use casino money for any ongoing expense (like salaries, insurance, ect.), but they can commit over $400,000 a year for 12 years from the casino for a field that may or may not be developed!!! Sounds like an ongoing expense to me.

-- Posted by Jcksn Fan on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 5:27 PM

"An initial down payment of $480,000 will be made by The Greater Cape Girardeau Benevolent Association, a group of investors which has been buying and selling property for business"

What is this "company" [The Greater Cape Girardeau Benevolent Association] getting in return for their initial investment aka down payment?

Why is the city of Cape spending money they have no logic proof will be received from the casino over the next 12 years? I would hope city leaders can read financial statements.


-- Posted by huntress2 on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 7:02 PM

What happens if the casino should go under?

Where will our city officials find the money then?

This is like walking on quick sand with the people's money.

-- Posted by 314djhh on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 7:26 PM

Probably a warehouse can go there and that's about it. I vote to leave it farmland.

-- Posted by Beaker on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 7:38 PM

Hope it goes over better than the airplane manufacturing building that cost taxpayers a million dollars....I guess the taxpayers will fund water, sewer, streets and tax breaks to coax

someone into moving in there. City needs to leave developing to the professionals like the Drury's. What ever happened to the dog park and other goofy ideas the City had just the other day in the paper.

-- Posted by stinker on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 8:24 PM

Are they going too build an airplane hanger out there? Then are they going too collect the rent?

Sorry they don't have a real good track record on followup.

-- Posted by daniel on Wed, Dec 12, 2012, at 9:59 PM

Was the land tax exempt under SEMO ownership, and, if so, will it now be taxable at least until the next owner demands, and receives, a tax abatement?

-- Posted by semowasp on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 6:49 AM

Rediger states they will work with Magnet to recruit businesses. Magnet has been leaderless for a year (maybe longer depending on what you consider leadership). Their website info is 2 years out of date. Using this approach the only companies who might be interested in Cape are those whose president got lost on the interstate and had to pull off at a Cape exit to take a leak.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 7:11 AM

I can see this turning out like the businesses along Nash road.

Jobs? They will all be $9.00 an hour job because thats all the businesses have to pay. A new company could move in and offer $7.00 an hour and there would be lines of people wanting that job.

Sheep being led around.

-- Posted by Bman69 on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 7:37 AM

It is a shame this money is not going into Cape's not very stellar public school system. These schools have horrible rankings and it seems nothing is being done besides cosmetic "fixes"!

-- Posted by CapeRes on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 7:45 AM

In a world of greed, and government pork, I just don't share Harry's viewpoint on this. Now that the town has taken over ownership of a farm field, I think Harry is expecting prospects to come and flock. In reality, there will be the few individuals who will announce intentions, "teasing" the public who seems to believe in Santa Clause. We saw this with a dental office that clearly turned out to be a scam, an airplane factory that clearly turned out to be a scam, and a theater proposal that turned out to be...I can't make sense what that turned out to be. I think it's time folks be realistic about expectations around here: this town is little more than a bathroom stop along the only highway that crosses state boundaries; there is a modest college up on the hill, but that college is not a major draw beyond a few locals that want to pick up an education or business degree. However in the uncertain times we are in, funding of that college in the future is largely in question; Recruitment of businesses with jobs have failed, due to several reasons. Newcomers to town are sending their kids to Notre Dame and not the public school - the public school system in Cape is no longer the draw that it was in the 1960s. The leaders have shown their *ahem* stellar planning skills with the sewer plan fiasco. Conveniences that are available in metropolitan areas require federal government subsidies here (municipal airport, and the van transportation system) and with the fiscal cliff looming in 3 days, those aren't dependable amenities that a prospective employer is going to look at.

That farm field is highly visible on the highway. This is something that the town should not do on its own. I see green pastures being destroyed to house pole barns and pre-fab metal buildings with large parking lots if our town tries develop it. Leave it alone!

-- Posted by Beaker on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 8:59 AM

I don't know about this deal hope it works out. The way this very weak economy is I wouldn't forecast to far out front and don't spend the money before you have it. Projections are fine but in this economic climate you cannot depend to much on them just to unstable nationwide right now.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 9:34 AM

Technical question. Some houses east of this location have Jackson addresses. They are not in Jackson city limits but do have Jackson addresses. Now that the city of Cape owns the land in between does anything happen to the addresses of those county residents?

-- Posted by southeastreader on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 10:40 AM

Our city leadership needed to take a drive around all the business parks, technology parks & industrial parks that nearly every city surround us has to ponder why they are all empty or nearly empty. Outside consultants have suckered towns around our country into an "if you build it they will come" idea that makes them lots of money selling false hopes to cities dreaming of economic growth.

The reality is that any company looking to move can force 50 desperate cities to compete for their affections. The "winning" city for the company affections is usually the one that most grossly overestimated the value of attracting those jobs. 5-10 years later as soon as the tax incentives start to run out, or their free or heavily subsidized building isn't as shiny that same company will be back on the market searching for another town full of patsies willing to give them an even better deal.

Real economic development starts at the bottom. It is about attracting talented people, it is encouraging new business startups, and seeing local small business grow into local medium and large sized businesses. Develop businesses with owners who have roots here instead of fantasizing about wooing some large outside company who will ditch us the moment they get a slightly better offer elsewhere.

-- Posted by Nil on Thu, Dec 13, 2012, at 11:15 AM

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