Shawnee & Lenexa

Construction begins at new industrial park in Shawnee

Airtex Inc. has begun work on a $9.5 million industrial building in a new business park it is developing in Shawnee near Kansas 7.

The 170,000-square-foot building is the first new industrial speculative project to go up in Shawnee since 2000, according to economic development officials. For Airtex, which manufactures heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for larger users, it is the company’s first venture as a developer.

“Speculative development of any kind is difficult, even in the ever-improving industrial real estate market,” said Ric Rambacher of Airtex, “but our ability to partner with the city allowed a project we were interested in to become a reality a lot sooner.”

The new building is expected to be completed later this year or early 2014. It is expected to be the first of a total of 1.1 million square feet of industrial buildings planned for the 80-acre industrial park at 43rd Street and Powell Drive near Kansas 7.

Rambacher said his company bought the property more than 20 years ago. The original idea was to sell parcels for others to build on, but now the firm has decided to pursue developing the site on its own. The development is called the WestLink Business Center.

The city approved an 80 percent, 10-year property tax abatement to assist the developer valued at $2.8 million. The Shawnee City Council also has suspended its excise tax on new development in the industrial park. The city still anticipates $2.1 million in new revenues from initial project.

“The city is proud to partner with Airtex on this first-class industrial development that will provide a place for hundreds of new jobs in Shawnee,” Mayor Jeff Meyers said in a prepared statement.

The building will feature a 28-foot ceiling, dock and drive-in loading and extensive parking. The property is being marketed by Whitney Kerr Jr. of Cassidy Turley commercial real estate.