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Logistics company cancels development in Willmar Industrial Park

WILLMAR -- For months, Wilmar city staff and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission have been working to bring a major development to the Willmar Industrial Park -- a 100,000-square-foot package sorting and distr...

Erica Dischino / Tribune The city of Willmar officially completed a purchase agreement with a development company for land between Trott Avenue and Willmar Avenue Southwest on the west side of Kandiyohi County Road 5 in Willmar. A package sorting and distribution facility is to be built by a logistics company that so far has not been named publicly.
File photo / Tribune An unnamed logistics company has decided not to purchase 14 acres of land between Trott Avenue and Willmar Avenue off County Road 5 in the Willmar Industrial Park. The company had been planning to build a 100,000-square-foot package sorting and distribution center.
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WILLMAR - For months, Wilmar city staff and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission have been working to bring a major development to the Willmar Industrial Park - a 100,000-square-foot package sorting and distribution center.

The city even approved the sale of 14.46 acres for $650,000 in October 2018 to Jones Development Company out of Kansas City, who was developing the project for the end user.

Everything seemed to have been moving right along, even up to the last few weeks.

On Thursday, the unnamed logistics company behind the development slammed the brakes on the project. It has decided to terminate the commercial property purchase agreement with the city.

"This is a little bit out of the blue," said Aaron Backman, EDC director. "It appears to be a call by the end user to roll back on capital plans. It is disappointing."

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Backman and Sarah Swedburg, interim Willmar Planning and Development Services director, announced the news at Thursday's EDC joint operations board meeting.

"So many hours that went into that," Swedburg said. "It was an end user decision."

The company was to purchase several acres of land in the Willmar Industrial Park, between Trott Avenue and Willmar Avenue Southwest on the west side of Kandiyohi County Road 5.

Jones Development Company notified the city Thursday morning by letter of the end user's decision. CBRE, a commercial real estate company, had also been working on the project, having initially contacted the city about the possible project last year.

"Frankly, I think it was a surprise to the site development people and Jones Development," Backman said.

In Backman's opinion the decision to cancel the project had nothing to do with the site, Willmar or west central Minnesota.

"Businesses need to make decisions based on their capital investment all the time," Backman said. "This is a decision out of our control."

Though this project won't be happening, Backman said the company is not against coming to Willmar in the future.

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Despite the unfortunate outcome, Backman has been able to see some positives. Having a national business interested in Willmar shows the shovel-ready certification for the industrial park work and that the city can compete with other regional centers for business.

Mayor Marv Calvin is also disappointed the project is not moving forward, though he understands having to make business decisions.

He thanked the staff at the city and the EDC for all their work and said the city will be keeping its eyes open for other development possibilities.

"It is sad they are not coming," Calvin said of the company. "We will continue to pursue opportunities as they come up."

Erica Dischino / TribuneThe area at the cross section of Trott Avenue and Industrial Drive in the Industrial Park was approved as a new general business zone, which will allow for the housing of a commercial day care.
File photo / Tribune Despite months of work, a planned development in the Willmar Industrial Park will not be taking place. The unnamed logistics company has decided not to go forward with the project at this time.

Related Topics: WILLMAR INDUSTRIAL PARK
Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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