Council approves Cargo Largo incentives

Mike Genet
The Examiner USA TODAY NETWORK

Plans for the new Cargo Largo facility in Independence have cleared any City Council hurdles. 

The new facility – at more than a half-million square feet – would be six times the size of the current Cargo Largo store on 35th Street. Cargo Largo owner Dee Pack has wanted to consolidate metro area operations – wholesale, retail and headquarters – into one location directly north of the current store. Plans with the city have been in the works to some degree since before the 2008 recession. 

The council Monday unanimously approved incentives and a development agreement for street construction, which includes a new 33rd Street directly across from Truman High School and a fully extended Weatherford Road between 35th and 31st streets.  

The 20-year property tax abatement – permitted under state statute for developing blighted areas – is 85 percent for the first five years, 84 percent for the next five years and 50 percent for the final 10 years. The developer, Dan Jensen of Kessinger/Hunter, also seeks reimbursement from new revenues from the half-cent city street sales tax, reimbursement from new revenues from the three-fourths-cent Noland Road CID sales tax and 50 percent reimbursement from 1 percent general sales tax revenues – all in connection with about $3.4 million in projected street improvement costs. 

Council Members Mike Steinmeyer and Brice Stewart had asked to postpone the vote for two weeks, saying time was needed to get better answers to questions raised by citizens about traffic and incentives. The council voted 4-3 against that. Both said they were not against the project but simply wanted more discussion. 

Steinmeyer abstained from the final votes to avoid possible conflict of interest, citing a relative who's a manager in the company. 

The council had approved the preliminary development plan earlier in 2021, knowing Pack would come back with an incentives request. 

Council Member Karen DeLuccie was on the Planning Commission when the project first came on the table and said she had no qualms moving forward. 

“We went through everything with Cargo Largo, we went through all the traffic studies, then we brought it up here and then 2008 happened,” she said. “It is a very good project.”  

Mayor Eileen Weir also didn't want to wait.  

“This has been a project we've worked on for at least a decade,” she said. “This has been vetted by Planning Commission, our incentives commission … it's had an incredible amount of scrutiny through all the appropriate channels.” 

With the consolidated facility, Cargo Largo says it will add more than 300 jobs in Independence.  

The Independence Economic Development and Incentives Commission, a volunteer advisory body consisting of citizens and representatives from taxing jurisdictions affected by a redevelopment project, unanimously approved the incentives last month. 

As part of the agreement, developers will construct a new 33rd Street from the railroad crossing installed in 2008 in anticipation of the project. The intersection of Noland Road and 33rd will have a new traffic signal timed other signals in the area, including the railroad crossing, as it will be primary access for customer traffic. The intersection will have northbound left turn lane from Noland, and southbound Noland will have a dedicated right-turn lane onto 33rd. 

Most tractor-trailer traffic will enter from 35th Street onto Weatherford Road, and developers will build a new westbound right-turn lane from 35th from the existing second lane, which currently ends immediately after the railroad tracks. 

A prior traffic study showed such street construction would be ideal to handle the additional traffic of a new facility.