Major Willmar Industrial Park development proposed, possible package sorting and distribution center

Willmar Industrial Park - Shovel Ready

WILLMAR—A yet-to-be named business is interested in constructing a package sorting and distribution center in the Willmar Industrial Park, a business which could bring dozens of new jobs.

“They haven’t released the name, but you have heard of it. It is not going to be a secret; they are a big player,” said Bruce Peterson, Willmar Planning and Development Services director, addressing Monday’s meeting of the Willmar City Council. “They will be running loads of product a day in and out of that property.”

CBRE Assignee, working on behalf of the business, sent a letter of intent to the city of Willmar, which says the business wants to purchase approximately 18.4 acres in the 4th Addition of the Industrial Park, situated between Trott and Willmar Avenues on the west side of Kandiyohi County Road 5. The starting price for the land is $1,001,880.

“They want to purchase a whole block in the Industrial Park,” Peterson said.

The council, following discussion earlier Monday during the work session, approved a resolution at the regular meeting to approve the letter of intent as a non-binding agreement and authorized City Administrator Ike Holland to execute the letter.

Approving the letter does not mean the land sale or project is a done deal, but it allows both parties to continue working toward a final agreement and sale.

Peterson said the new warehouse building will be around 100,000 square feet and will have 25 loading docks. It will also have parking for hundreds of passenger vehicles, vans, trucks and trailers, according to Aaron Backman, executive director of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

“They move a lot of product and employ a lot of people,” Peterson said.

The Willmar Industrial Park Land Write-down Policy, which the company wants to use, could reduce the selling price of the property, depending on the number of new employees, the starting wage of those jobs and how much added value to the site the project would bring.

“We haven’t come to a firm price,” Peterson said. “The company is very interested in the site.”

Peterson said it is estimated the proposed project would add an estimated $5 million in improvements to the property. When it comes to the starting wages of the new jobs, Peterson said he feels they will be above what the write-down policy requires and most would be considered head-of-household jobs.

While the property being considered is certified shovel-ready by the state, the company is continuing its own due diligence by completing soil borings and other environmental reviews of the land.

Plans and specifications for the development of the property will need to be brought to the Willmar Planning Commission for review. A new traffic signal would need to be installed at County Road 5 and Willmar Avenue, at the city and county’s expense, if the building project goes forward due to the presumed increase in truck traffic, the letter of intent said.

The City Council will also need to approve any sale of city land, which will require an ordinance and public hearing.

This potential project has been in the work for some time. CBRE contacted Backman after coming across the EDC website and seeing the shovel-ready certification the Industrial Park earned last year from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Backman and Peterson have been working together to make the project a reality for several months. Now it looks like a deal is close.

“For Willmar to be selected for this project, these are good things. This is what economic development is all about,” Mayor Marv Calvin said.

West Central Tribune by Shelby Lindrud

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