Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 22 December 2009 19:45
Two of them—a new dealership for Midway Motors and the reconstruction and resurfacing of several blocks of North Ash Street—are likely a done deal. The third project, construction of a new $10 million hospital, is in the “hopeful” category for a spring groundbreaking.
Larry Arthur, president and chief executive officer of HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc., based in Kansas City, said his company’s frustration with the difficult lending market may finally be over.
“We’re working with a bank in Kansas that is taking the project to their credit committee in the next two weeks,” Arthur said. “We hope to have approval on that, then we have a credit enhancement we’re using with the project that we hope to have approved about 45 days after that.
“So we’re looking hopefully for a spring groundbreaking.”
He said the plans are completed for building the facility and are ready to go to bid.
Arthur said it’s been “a very difficult year” trying to secure bank financing in the midst of the current national economic crisis.
“That what the national discussion is all about right now—the banks lending and how tight credit is,” he said. “We’ve been swimming in the same pond everybody else is.”
He said the delay has never jeopardized the project.
“We just hope to hit the ground running and build it as quickly as we can,” Arthur said. “We think it will take between 10 and 12 months to complete.
Mike Ryan, chief executive officer for Hillsboro Community Hospital, validated HMC/CAH’s urgency to get the project under way.
“They’re very anxious to start building a hospital here,” Ryan said. “Their business plan is not to go out and buy old hospitals and operate them like they have been operating. It’s to build a new hospital and then go forward with that. That’s still very much what they want to do.”
HMC/CAH acquired the operation of what was then called Hillsboro Community Medical Center in 2008 with the promise of building a start-of-the art hospital at the corner of U.S. Highway 56 and Industrial Road within three to five years.
The city of Hillsboro retains ownership of the hospital’s current facility through its Public Building Commission.
Glenn Hoover, owner of Midway Motors, based in McPherson, expects dirt to turn in January for the new dealership that will be located in the newly designated Hillsboro Business Park along U.S. Highway 56, east of North Ash Street.
“The building is out for bids right now,” Hoover said. “We’re waiting to get final bids back on the building, and hopefully the building construction can start, weather permitting, in February.”
The hub of the new dealership will be a 10,000-square-foot building for a full-service automotive operation. It will be surrounded by a “tremendous amount of cement display area around the building,” Hoover said, plus area lighting.
“We think it will be a huge plus for Hillsboro,” he said. “A year ago there was a question whether Hillsboro was going to have any dealership survive. At least this should cement the fact that they’re going to have at least one dealership in a new location.”
Hoover said he believes the new facility will spark other developments in the new business park.
“Since people started hearing our plans to build out there, we’ve had a few other people show interest in being out there close to us,” he said.
Hoover said he expects construction to be completed in six to seven months after it begins.
He said the new dealership will enhance the impact of his Hillsboro business, which was acquired last year and formerly known as Irv Schroeder County Motors.
“With the bypass of the highway in Hillsboro (at the current location), it’s very obvious when we purchased the dealership, our intent was to move it as quickly as possible,” Hoover said. “And we would have already had that done had it not been for the deep recession.”
The new dealership in Hillsboro continues Midway’s expansion in central Kansas. The company has started a new General Motors dealership for McPherson within the last month and recently acquired the Chevrolet dealership in Hutchinson.
“We feel that this is a time to grow instead of pulling back,” Hoover said of the present economic climate. “I’m excited to get started on (the project in Hillsboro).”
North Ash renovation
Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine said the renovation planned for several blocks of North Ash Street is the kind of improvement first-time guests won’t notice when they come to town, but regular commuters in and out of Hillsboro definitely will appreciate.
At least for a while.
“It will be a situation where people will be driving along and (the new stretch of street) will be smooth as silk—and after a couple of weeks, they really won’t remember it,” he said with a chuckle.
The project includes the complete reconstruction of North Ash from about First Street north to Second Street. The stretch from Second Street north almost to Orchard Drive will be milled, then resurfaced with an asphalt overlay.
Paine’s enthusiasm for the project comes from the fact that most of the project—specifically the repairs to Ash Street—will be paid for from $412,500 the city was awarded last year in federal stimulus money. The low bid for the project is $302,264.
But being part of the stimulus program actually has slowed the project because of the additional demands required by the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The seven-page project plan the city had initiated on its own prior to the stimulus program has now surpassed 40 pages to meet KDOT requirements.
“To me, we could have bid this project last summer, and have it done last summer, and it would have met the expectations of trying to create some financial stimulus to the various markets that were in play at the time,” Paine said.
“The long and the short of it—(the project is) a gift for us and I’ve learned one should never look a gift horse in the mouth.”
If local funding allows, the city will pay for the milling and asphalt overlay of one block of Third Street from North Ash east to Main Street.
“We may have to do this project in phases,” Paine said. The first phase would be to rebuild Ash Street from First to Second, with the overlay work on the rest of targeted streets to follow.
Paine said he is hopeful the project will begin by March 1 and be completed in time for wheat harvest, since North Ash is a major thoroughfare to the Cooperative Grain & Supply elevator.
He recognizes that construction will entail some inconveniences for homeowners in the affected area as well as local motorists.
“People living along Ash Street between Second and Third may not be inconvenienced too much, but we’re going to have some inconvenience,” Paine said. “We’re going to do what we can to work with them, and try to work with the folks at the elevator to make sure that the work is done and ready by the time harvest comes along.”
In addition to those three major projects, two commercial projects will likely occur during 2010 in Hillsboro Heights. One is a new building for the CarQuest business owned by Mike Kleiber, and the other is a new location for Midlands Farm Services Inc., currently located in Marion.
The Hillsboro City Council approved the sale of a lot Dec. 15 to Scully Partners L.P., which is managed in Marion County through Midlands Farm Services owner Doug Sharp.
Dates for the completion of those two projects have not been announced.