Blue Springs moving ahead with development

By Mike Genet

Plans for a $30 million industrial development project in Blue Springs continue to move forward.

The city’s Planning Commission on Monday unanimously approved the general development plan, preliminary plat and rezoning for the Blue Springs Logistics,  a speculative industrial and warehouse building of nearly 600,000 square feet that would be east of the Faurecia plant and Kohl’s distribution center and just north of the Camping World RV dealer, off Jefferson and just north of Interstate 70 at the border with Grain Valley.

The City Council will consider those items Monday along with a public hearing, the final development plans will go through both bodies. If plans proceed through City Hall, developers believe they could start moving ground by the end of this year and have the building complete and move-in ready by this time next year. 

The project would be funded with Chapter 100 industrial bonds that the city would not back, though developers are asking the city for 10 years of full tax abatement and a sales tax exemption on materials. The city would be asked to pay about $1.5 million for necessary improvements to Jefferson Street east of Faurecia, though developers would put in a public north-south road off Jefferson.

A council majority earlier this month approved a non-binding memorandum of understanding and a funding agreement.

A couple planning commissioners questioned how speculative the structure will be. 

“Can you give us any assurance that we won’t be building a very large empty building,” Ken Billups said.

Project backers said the market for such move-in ready structures is strong right now.

“The way this industry has moved, it was hot before COVID, and COVID has pushed it forward,” said Devin Schuster of the commercial real estate firm Flint Development. “These tenants want space available; they want space tomorrow. We just signed the first lease for a similar project wrapping up in Liberty. We have to have space in the way they want.”

John Hall, who with his wife lives on the east side of Tyer Road across from the planned project, said he wasn’t very opposed to rezoning, but he and several rural neighbors are concerned about the noise and light from what he sees could be a 24/7 operation. 

The earthen berm built around the Kohl’s plant mitigated many of the concerns Hall and his neighbors would have had there, he said, and he hopes the Blue Springs Logistics developers will make similar efforts, particularly on the northeast corner of the property that’s nearest their homes.

“It’s good to hear the firm is looking at adding berms,” he said, adding that the plans for lighting also were helpful. “I view that as favorable.”

“We go there for rest, we go there for silence,” Hall said. “I think we’ve developed a pretty good quality of life in that area. That’s where we put in our sweat equity over the years.”

While such a development might not be ideal for him personally, Hall said he understands the larger benefits, particularly from his perspective as a former Grain Valley school board member.

“I know the impact this can have on a school district, which is favorable,” he said. “We’re here as neighbors to ask our new neighbor to … preserve quality of life.”

Addressing another concern, Chris Hefner of Davidson Architecture said they plan to design the site so storm water leaves the area in the same fashion it does currently and does not overrun neighboring plats.

For sound buffering, he said, they plan a combination of berm and trees.

“I don’t feel they’re going to get a berm tall enough (like Kohl’s),” he said. “I think landscaping of evergreens is the answer.”