Plan for logistics project in Willmar gets green light from Planning Commission
The Willmar Planning Commission is recommending the approval of the plan for the large logistics project in the Fourth Addition of the Willmar Industrial Park. The Willmar City Council still needs to give its seal of approval to the plan, which will see the construction of a 217,000-square-foot package sorting and distribution facility in the park.
WILLMAR — The pieces are starting to come together for the large logistics facility to be constructed on the west end of Willmar, in the Willmar Industrial Park.
The Willmar Planning Commission at Wednesday's meeting recommended the approval of the project's plan, and also approved the vacation of several easements in the property the developer is purchasing from the city.
"Packaging coming in, being sorted and going out" is what this logistics project will be about, said Sarah Swedburg, business development manager for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission. "It is an industrial development in an industrial park. We are really excited."
The approved plan — submitted by RDC National , the project developer for a yet-to-be-named end user — was presented Wednesday to the Planning Commission by EDC Director Aaron Backman and Josh Johnson from Bollig Inc. It includes a 217,000-square-foot building, parking for hundreds of vehicles, landscaping and the potential for an additional maintenance garage for vehicle repair on site.
"We are very pleased with this particular project," Backman said.
The land sale was approved earlier this summer and Backman said the purchase agreement was executed by all parties on Aug. 20 and the earnest money deposited. The land purchased, Blocks 2 and 3 of the Willmar Industrial Park 4th Addition as well as six additional acres of unplatted land, used to be part of the old Willmar Airport. RDC National purchased the land for $699,875.
"It is all considered shovel ready certified by the state," Swedburg said.
RDC National, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin, is the preferred developer for the end user. According to the company's website, it has built projects for FedEx and Monsanto.
The next bit of paperwork needed to be completed and approved is the development agreement between the city and RDC National.
"We are now on version six right now," Backman said. "We are making progress."
In addition to approving the project plan, the Planning Commission also recommend the City Council approve the vacation of several easements including right of way, utility and other easements. This includes the vacation of 32nd Street Southwest that runs between Willmar and Trott avenues. It is a minimally used street and in the way of the facility's construction.
"The building will sit over a portion of where that road already exists," Swedburg said.
An open stormwater ditch that runs through the property will be covered and rerouted so it won't run underneath the future building. A power line will stay where it is, since it is not impeding any construction.
The developer will also need to figure out how to meet the city's stormwater requirements. The city ordinance say that a development must keep the site's stormwater discharge rates the same or lower than it was prior to construction. Because the Industrial Park site is currently green space and will be transformed into mostly hard, impervious surface, a stormwater plan is even more important.
On the city side, Willmar is starting the process to get a traffic signal light installed at the intersection of Kandiyohi County Road 5 and Willmar Avenue Southwest. The hope is to have the light in place by the time the facility opens its doors for business.
"We are estimating a 12-month time frame," Swedburg said.
RDC National hopes to begin construction this month. If all goes to plan, construction should take around a year.
The Willmar City Council will need to gives its final approval to the plan and the vacation of easements. Other approvals are also coming, including the development agreement.
The Planning Commission votes were unanimous Wednesday, and commissioners are looking forward to the project moving forward. The hope is it could ignite even more development in the Industrial Park.
"I think it is fantastic," said Commissioner Stephanie Carlson. "The west side needs something like this to be a catalyst."