From the Print: Pinjuv says infrastructure could create new industrial park

February 17, 2015 in Daily Activitiespinjuv

by David Mink, JRBJ reporter

Jimmer Pinjuv, local developer and owner of Wildwood Ranch Development, has a deal for the Joplin City Council.

During the council’s regular Feb. 2 meeting, Pinjuv offered to begin the annexation of more than 700 acres of the Wildwood property into the city limits of Joplin in exchange for the creation of infrastructure to make the property viable for commercial development.

Pinjuv pointed to the more than $150 million in Community Development Block Grant funding the city received following the 2011 tornado as a possible funding source for the $850,000 sewer project needed to upgrade the property.

He said that upgrading the property – and in effect creating a new industrial park – would make it a viable choice for manufacturers and other larger employers looking to relocate to Joplin and create new jobs.

“I feel like it’s a much better use of those dollars to go into long-term, permanent jobs that are net gains to the community than to go out and build retail facilities that are going to cannibalize our existing businesses and just move jobs around town,” he said.

Pinjuv said his primary need was wastewater infrastructure, including the installation of a lift station and 7,500 feet of main line. He said the estimated cost of the project, bid through the city at prevailing wage, would be $850,000. Bid out privately, he said it would cost about $650,000.

He said he’s courted employers in the past, but the lack of sewer has been a deterrent for them.

“When those companies send a site selection man to town from Germany, he’s looking at 20 of these sites around the country,” he said. “A lot of them have loved our property, but we know for a fact that because we didn’t have sewer and couldn’t get it to them tomorrow, we’ve lost those prospects.”

He said running the sewer north across his property to 20th Street would allow him to break up the property into smaller parcels to attract 100-200 employee companies.

“I’d really love to see us be able to break that into 50-acre parcels and bring a lot of (smaller) companies here in town so we’re not beholden to one 2,500-person employer,” he said.

The property has access to rail as well, but it would have to be upgraded to a heavier classification to handle the loads required by industrial manufacturers. Responding to a question from Councilman Morris Glaze, Pinjuv said the cost of upgrading the railroad from Roosevelt Avenue west to his property at Central City Road was about $1.7 million.

“We’ve got a great location for development,” he said. “We’ve got a great community, but we just don’t have all the infrastructure that is needed.”

He asked the council to strongly consider using dollars for industrial development rather than retail.

“(Manufacturers) create new jobs that bring new dollars to each of our existing businesses and make them float,” he said. “If we can make (those businesses) all successful, there will be plenty of prime developers that want to come here and build new privately funded retail facilities and restaurants and shopping centers to compete with those guys because all of our local guys are making so much money. But right now that’s not the case at all.”

City Manager Sam Anselm said he and staff had been looking at the CDBG funds more intensely now that the city has severed its contracts with master developer Wallace Bajjali Development Partners LP. He said they were currently identifying what projects had been finalized and what funds were still available, and said he would return to council in March with more specific information.

The council voted to authorize staff to begin researching whether Pinjuv’s project was in line with CDBG requirements.

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 16 issue of Joplin Regional Business Journal.