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Jennie-O growth a step closer: City panel gives preliminary approval to land sale for office expansion

The Community Development Committee gave preliminary approval Thursday to the sale of land totaling about 8 acres to Jennie-O Turkey Store for the company’s proposed headquarters expansion. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council’s Community Development Committee gave preliminary approval Thursday afternoon to the sale of two parcels of land totaling about 8 acres to Jennie-O Turkey Store for the company’s proposed headquarters expansion project.

The $238,072 sale price will be reduced to zero dollars under the industrial land pricing write-down policy adopted by the council in October 2013, said Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services.

The committee directed Peterson and legal counsel to develop the purchase agreement and to bring that back to a future meeting.

The two parcels are located between the south end of the city’s Public Works maintenance property, which was severed by the realigned Willmar Avenue Southwest, and Kandiyohi County Road 5.

In addition, the committee gave preliminary approval to a 10-year right of first refusal to Jennie-O for a nearly 30-acre parcel in the industrial park for a possible future expansion of the turkey processing plant, and directed Peterson and legal counsel to prepare and bring that document to the council for final approval.

The council will consider the committee’s recommendations at the March 3 meeting.

Jennie-O Director of Engineering Randy Alsleben said the company’s hope and plan, pending council approval, is to get the purchase agreement in place and move forward with the office expansion project.

He said completion of the new Willmar Avenue realignment is needed first before the office project can proceed.

Based on square footage and estimated cost for the office expansion, the City Assessor’s office estimates the market value of the building, parking and miscellaneous improvements at $4 million.

In addition, the company estimates it will add a minimum of 90 headquarters jobs. Alsleben said most of those jobs will come from Spicer.

Committee members Bruce DeBlieck, Jim Dokken and Tim Johnson spoke in favor of the project.

Johnson asked how the land values were determined.

Peterson said the sale price was based on analysis and review by Holmgren Appraisal of Willmar of comparable land sales. The appraisal was done in September 2013.

Johnson also requested clarification on a portion of the write-down policy that provides a credit off the listing land price for each job created and whether the jobs were to be considered created or retained.

Peterson said he knows that Jennie-O will move jobs to Willmar. He said the city’s write-down policy does not specifically address the question. He said state of Minnesota business subsidy policy expects that jobs will be counted that are either created or retained. He said all of these positions can be viewed as retained positions.

DeBlieck offered the motion for approval, seconded by Johnson, of the land sale and for the option for right of first refusal. DeBlieck said this sets the stage for growth with Jennie-O. He said Jennie-O, a Fortune 500 company, brings value to Willmar and is a real asset to the community.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150