• Menards expansion to Independence on hold for now

  • Eastern Jackson County residents won’t be saving big money at Menards any time soon.

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  • Eastern Jackson County residents won’t be saving big money at Menards any time soon.
    Plans for a well-known home improvement store to locate in Independence appear to be on hold for now, and company officials are blaming President Barack Obama.
    Less than two months after the official announcement took place, Menards released a statement last week saying it would hold off on a site in Independence, despite having cleared the rezoning process through the Planning Commission.
    On Oct. 23, commission members approved the rezoning of 53 acres near Interstate 70 and Little Blue Parkway from residential agricultural and office-residential to business park-planned unit development. They had also approved a preliminary development plan.
    That case was before the City Council on Dec. 3 for its final approval, but council members voted unanimously – and without public discussion – to postpone the case indefinitely.
    The indefinite postponement took place because city staff do not know when the ordinance will come back for the council’s consideration, said Tom Scannell, assistant director of the Community Development Department. Scannell and City Manager Robert Heacock both referred additional questions to Menards corporate office in Eau Claire, Wis.
    “I’m very sorry, but we are a family-owned business and with the Obama administration scaring the dickens out of all small businesses in the USA at present, we have decided not to risk expansion until things are more settled,” Menards spokesman Jeff Abbott said in an email Friday. “Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
    Published reports also indicate that plans for a Menards site in O’Fallon, Mo., also are being shelved.
    The closest existing Menards locations are in St. Joseph and Sedalia, on the Missouri side, and Topeka, Kan. Menards had been looking at the Kansas City market for more than a year and had plans for north, south, east and west locations throughout the metropolitan, with Independence as the first-announced site.
    Construction was to begin in the spring, with the Independence store opening its doors in spring 2014. Abbott did not provide any timeline update.
    Plans aren’t completely dead for bringing Menards to Eastern Jackson County. Next Monday, the City Council is set to vote on the latest Independence tax increment financing proposal. Known as the Interstate 70 and Little Blue Parkway TIF, one of the project proposals includes the future site of Menards.
    With revenue generated from that project, improvements are planned for a right-turn lane into the northeast corner of I-70 and Little Blue Parkway, as well as Jackson Drive intersection improvements.

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