Platte City getting to top layer of development cake

Platte City Administrator DJ Gehrt has likened the City’s effort to promote development east of Interstate 29 to the creation of a layered cake. “Well, we’re finally getting to the top layers here,” he told the City’s economic development committee at a special meeting Monday evening. The committee approved a recommendation to pass on to the full Board of Aldermen a draft of a request for proposals from developers interested in working on the project. “We don’t want to be the developers on this,” Gehrt said. “We’re about to the point in the process where we can start searching for a developer to partner with.” At the regular Board of Aldermen meeting last week, the Board unanimously agreed to move ahead with the plan to condemn the 38-acre tract owned by the Wilson Trust through eminent domain. Paperwork was filed this week with the Platte County Circuit Court to begin condemnation, Gehrt said. Already, the City has encountered a slight bump in the road with the news the court requires dates of birth and/or social security numbers for all potential heirs it would need to serve with paperwork. Gehrt reported he expected the problem to be shortly resolved. The request for proposals asks developers in very broad terms if they are interested, qualified and have the vision to work to develop the property successfully. The document will outline what the City hopes to see in the area, and the mechanisms by which the City could aid development. For this project, tax increment financing is off the table, Gehrt said. This move was made at the direction of the Board of Aldermen. Submissions must include a general letter of interest regarding the type of redevelopment envisioned for the site with an assessment of what the market will dictate; a description of the proposer’s assessment of the kind of development the area would support, including likely project enhancements such as building facades, landscaping and the layout of common areas. The request also asks developers if they have ownership interest in the project or would like exclusive control of the property via a listing agreement. Gehrt expects for 25-40 developers or development partners to express interest in the project, based upon a preliminary meeting in 2013 that drew 24 interested parties. After advertising in local newspapers, business journals and issuing invitations to select partners, the City will meet with those interested at the end of March. Moving forward with the search for suitable developers before condemnation is complete comes with some risk, Gehrt said, but he expects the process to go smoothly.