Hillsboro council approves 3.7-acre land sale for unnamed food-fuel related business

The Hillsboro City Council has approved the sale of 3.7 acres?roughly three lots?in the Hillsboro Heights subdivision to a real estate holding company looking for new development sites for an unidentified Fortune 100 parent company that ?sells fuel, groceries and drug sales.?

Clint Seibel, the city?s economic development director, presented the land acquisition proposal during the council?s March 4 meeting. The council met in a 30-minute executive session for trade secrets prior to Seibel?s presentation.

To his limited description of the parent company, Seibel added, ?One of the things we probably don?t know is whether they will sell all of these things in our (location) or not. But they could…. The bottom line is, they offer more than a convenience store, but not as much as a total grocery store.?

Seibel said the business targeted for Hillsboro will be a smaller format of what the business offers in larger cities. It is expected to employ 20 to 30 people.

?The goal is to be open by year?s end, which we think is very aggressive,? Seibel said. ?We?re not sure if that can really happen, but that?s their goal.?

The holding company that approached the city about the land is Southeast Kansas Development, LLC, which is owned by Ben Hawkins, a partner in a larger company called Hawkins Edwards Inc., based in Spokane, Wash.

Southeast Kansas Development will be the initial purchaser of the land until it can be transferred to the parent company that will establish the local business. The process includes a 90-day feasibility period prior to closing; during that time the buyers will be reviewing issues such as zoning and easements, Seibel said.

?When it?s time to close, there?ll be another 30 days after the feasibility,? he added. ?So it could take four months before this is closed.?

Without an opposing vote, the council approved the purchase of the targeted property for $55,000 with a downpayment of $2,500.

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