City sells land for mystery business

The Hillsboro City Coun??cil has approved the sale of 3.7 acres?roughly three lots?in the Hillsboro Heights subdivision to a holding company that is looking for new development sites for an unidentified Fortune 500 parent company that sells fuel, groceries and pharmaceuticals.

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

Seibel said the new business may not sell all three of the three items he mentioned, but it could.

?The bottom line is, they offer more than a convenience store, but not as much as a total grocery store,? he said.

The business planned for Hillsboro will be a smaller version of what the company offers in larger cities, Seibel added. 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,? he 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.

?Our mayor has signed a confidentiality agreement with Hawkins,? Seibel said. ?We know about the company, but we do not know the name of the company until it closes.?

The transaction process includes a 90-day feasibility period prior to closing; during that time the buyer 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.?

The targeted acreage is located south of the curve where Orchard Drive turns north toward U.S. Highway 56.

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

?I think this is a move in the right direction for Hills?boro,? Mayor Delores Dalke said.

Airport grant

The council authorized the mayor to sign a Kansas Department of Transpor?ta?tion aviation grant for $116,000 that will pay for 90 percent of the cost to seal-coat the airport runway.

Hillsboro?s 10 percent share of the project will come from the capital improvement fund.

City Administrator Larry Paine said the city had received an offer from an airport auxillary group to repaint the stripes and runway numbers at the airport.

?They wanted to do the striping on the existing airport before we did any work, so we kind of put them off,? he said.

?So there?s an opportunity to get some volunteer work out there to complement (the seal-coat project). After we do that work, it would have to be striped anyway.?

Other business

In other business, the council:

? approved a two-year extension for the city audit contract with Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball at a cost of $14,005 to do the audit for 2013 and $14,656 for 2014.

? approved the purchase of a new Hustler lawn mower from Ag Power Inc. of Hillsboro at a cost of $11,685. A lower bid of $11,484 was submitted by Hale?s Sales and Service of Sedgwick.

The council acted on the city?s policy that allows for a 5 percent difference in price for a local provider. The difference between the two bids was 1.75 percent.

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