Lawton economic entities set terms for new distribution center planned for south Lawton
January 31, 2024
by Kim McDonnell firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawton economic development entities are putting an agreement into place to guide new development on 15 acres of property in the industrial park near Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport.
Members of the Lawton Economic Development Authority (LEDA) voted last week to sign off on the proposed agreement with Fisher59, which plans to buy 15.71 acres in the industrial park that is located on the south end of the airport’s runway and build a distribution complex there. City Council members — who also will be required to approve the deal — were publicly updated on the project in December by LEDA Executive Director Richard Rogalski and Brad Cooksey, president of the Lawton Economic Development Corporation (LEDC).
The two entities, along with the City of Lawton, have specific assigned duties that will allow the transfer of the 15.71 acres of property to Fisher59, as well as allow the City of Lawton to reimburse the project developer for an estimated $1.6 million worth of offsite public sewer, water and road work necessary to support the site.
Rogalski said the project is a larger version of the PepsiCo project, a distribution center built in the area through an agreement with LEDA, LEDC and the City of Lawton in 2021. Rogalski said the Fisher59 agreement specifies Lawton will put in the public infrastructure, just as it did for the PepsiCo warehouse project (the Fisher59 project is immediately north of PepsiCo’s warehouse). Among the city’s projects will be extension of Gilbert Gibson Road to the north side of the project site, as well as work on a 12-inch waterline and sewer line.
“This project is essentially a retention project,” Rogalski said, of a project calculated to retain 60 existing Fisher59 employees, as well as add 30 more over a 10-year expansion period.
Cooksey has said Fisher59 already owns one distribution plant in Lawton and purchased a second plant, with plans to combine the two into a single facility.
LEDA Chairman Fred Fitch said a bigger issue to consider is the beneficiary of the increased ad valorem taxes that will result from a new facility being built on what is now vacant property.
“This is all in Lawton Public Schools’ school district,” Fitch said.
Rogalski said in December that the entities would be bringing the documentation back to the council that would allow the project to proceed: first the term sheet, then the formal economic development agreement. The term sheet sets obligations for each of the four members of the agreement. The City of Lawton’s initial investment will be recovered through the property’s status as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, an economic development tool that allows entities to fund public infrastructure needed for economic development from the increase in ad valorem revenue that comes from undeveloped or under-developed property becoming more valuable and generating more ad valorem tax.
More Information - OBLIGATIONS
Purchase a 15.71 acre tract from Lawton Economic Development Corporation for $260,000
Make a minimum investment of $16 million for construction of a new distribution center on the site: a 100,000-square-foot warehouse and 8,000-square-foot office facility, with paved parking and loading areas.
Retain 60 existing employees and add 30 more over a 10-year expansion period, with an average salary of $60,000.
Provide design and construction plans of the offsite public sewer, water and road work, for approval and acceptance by City Council. After approval, submit an invoice for the actual cost of construction, now estimated at $1.6 million.
Lawton Economic Development Corporation:
Complete sale of 15.71 acres for $260,000.
Provide the net proceeds to the City of Lawton, to be held in an account and used exclusively for reimbursement to Fisher59 for construction costs of public infrastructure.
City of Lawton:
Review and approve construction plans for the development, along with plans for public infrastructure work.
Active Tax Increment Financing District for the project.
After acceptance by the City Council, reimburse Fisher59 for the cost of infrastructure work (minus the $260,000 paid to LEDC for the land).
Lawton Economic Development Authority:
Manage the TIF revenues generated by the project, to include reimbursement of the City of Lawton and LEDC for infrastructure investment.