Platte City pulls trigger on land acquisition

In hopes of spurring development, Aldermen vote to make offer on acreage east of I-29 appraised at $940,000

The Platte City Board of Aldermen has moved forward with its plans to acquire about 38 acres east of Interstate 29 in a move aimed at spurring long-coveted commercial development. 

At its meeting Tuesday evening, the Board unanimously approved a measure declaring the 38.5-acre area blighted and in need of redevelopment and an ordinance authorizing City Administrator DJ Gehrt to issue a 30-day offer to purchase the property. On Jan. 29, the City will offer $940,000 — an amount recommended during an appraisal of just compensation contracted by the City last year and conducted by Valbridge Property Advisers — to the Wilson Trust attorney. “Once the purchase offer has been made, the property owner has a minimum of 30 days in which to accept, reject or otherwise respond to the City’s offer,” Gehrt said in his report. “The property owner is under no obligation to respond in any manner. The City can take no other steps toward ownership during this 30-day period although it can continue to engage in planning and other related activities. It is anticipated the City will develop and introduce preliminary redevelopment plans to the Planning and Zoning Commission during the 30-day notice period.” The property, located at the southeast corner of the I-29 and Highway HH interchange, is under the ownership of the Francis M. Wilson Trust, which stipulates ownership may only be transferred by acquisition by a public agency such as a school district or city. As reported in The Citizen last week, the Trust is likely to decline the offer as part of a public condemnation process required by the trust. Once that happens, the City will proceed with condemnation, which will result in a court-ordered settlement. Gehrt said that will likely result in the purchase price of the land settling at $1.2-$1.4 million. The narrow strip of property along I-29 upon which several billboards have been built will remain under the ownership of the Wilson Trust. The City completed a lengthy blight study, which was also analyzed by Valbridge Property Advisors. While Valbridge noted a few errors in the report, primarily typographical, it concurred that the area met the legal definition of blight and noted that the Missouri Supreme Court has found underutilization of property to be reason for a finding of blight in several cases. Gehrt said once the City has acquired the land, it will conduct an “open search” for a private sector company to develop the property. The City also has plans to use a portion of the property construction of a wastewater treatment pump station at a cost of about $500-700,000. In other business, like most other municipalities in the County, Platte City approved its agreement with Platte County for the distribution of the 2013-23 transportation tax proceeds. Based on County estimates, Platte City is expected to receive between $190-210,000 during the first year of the distribution, with the annual percentage varying due to sales tax revenue fluctuations. Alderman Ron Porter questioned if the County had solidified the numbers on that first-year estimate yet. “The County wants to wait for all the players to sign off before they finalize the numbers,” Gehrt said. “There is no reason to doubt what the County is telling us, but there’s still some wiggle room.” Platte County will not release final numbers until it receives approval of the agreement from the City of Kansas City, the single largest entity involved in the transportation sales tax distribution. In a rather less expensive property transaction, the Board also approved the sale of the vacant property at 316 Ferrel Street for $500. The property, which was purchased by the City in 2004, has been available for sale since 2009. The property will be purchases by adjacent property owner Terry Peterson.