Company in preliminary talks to build manufacturing plant in Evanston

Evanston Mayor Kent Williams speaks during the April 28 city council meeting, held at the Roundhouse.

EVANSTON — Evanston Community Development Director Rocco O’Neill addressed the Evanston City Council on April 28 concerning an interested manufacturer that wants to obtain an agreement with the city for property at Union Center Business Park.

O’Neill said a manufacturing company from Portland, Oregon, is looking to relocate its interior products manufacturing and distribution to Evanston. He asked that the company not be named because they are currently in negotiations. The company would employ up to 15 people immediately, and eventually employ as many as 50 within the next three to five years.

The proposed 60,000-square-foot facility is estimated to cost between $4.5 and $6 million. The company will commit $500,000, plus interior materials and have already made a deposit in First Bank and paid for an engineering assessment.

O’Neill said the proposal asks the City of Evanston to provide $3 million gained from a Wyoming Business Council (WBC) grant, plus the city would secure a loan from the WBC for the remaining amount at 2-4% interest for 20 to 25 years. The loan would be repaid with lease payments from the company, which would have the option to purchase the facility in five years for market value, less lease payments and investments.

“The city stands to make 300% on the sale of the building to [the company] and will gain a manufacturing business independent of oil and gas that will employ at least 15 people,” O’Neill said. “And in the event that [the project] falls through the city would have a 60,000-square-foot facility to market.”

City Attorney Dennis Boal said, “These people have met with Rocco and I several times and have paid for an engineering estimate. They really want to locate here. We will have more to share next week as we don’t want to say too much until we have a final agreement to bring to the city.”

O’Neill then mentioned there was someone who had contacted him about purchasing the Hawpatch property on which to build a single-family home. O’Neill said the school district had also mentioned using the property for a future parking lot. 

The council agreed that they do not want to be in the real estate business for people who want to build homes. Also, O’Neill said the property has access to the Wyoming State Hospital property, and the council agreed that it didn’t make sense to do anything with it at this time.

Held at the Roundhouse, the Evanston City Council work session began with a tour of the construction area to view the recent installation of the massive doors and concrete sidewalk outside, prior to O’Neill’s comments. The tour was led by Evanston Director of Engineering and Planning Dean Barker, who discussed the different phases of the renovation and opened a set of doors for the group to step onto the completed sidewalk, which runs the length of the Roundhouse. Barker had given the council a handout showing the different phases and landscaping and paving that will eventually take place as financing is available.

Later in the meeting, Evanston Parks and Recreation District Director Scott Ehlers discussed the operating agreement among the district, the City of Evanston and the Evanston Parks and Recreation Board.

“Nothing has changed from our agreement of last year,” Ehlers said, “only the addition of the splash pad and the new agreement with Bear Meadows. Exhibit A shows you that the staff of Parks and Recreation has a lot to take care of and maintain. We are working with the school district to utilize the Bear Meadows more, which will be good.”

The exhibit lists 11 buildings that Parks and Rec is responsible for maintaining, plus 56 full maintenance areas which include parks, greenways, landscape strips throughout the city; the Chinese Gazebo landscaping; the city cemetery; all city grounds; the baseball fields; tennis courts; golf course; railroad park; recreation center and more.

Parks and Rec is also responsible for limited maintenance on the Evanston Community Garden, which is seasonal. The Parks and Recreation Board is responsible for the utilities for the Hamblin Park shop, restrooms and shelters; the ballfields building complex; the rec center and its grounds; the Sunset Park shop and for electricity only at the city tennis courts and ballfields.

Treasurer Trudy Lym was last on the agenda with a discussion of the budget items for contract services/community grants and the Tripartite Board recommended organizations for funding.

“I haven’t heard from the airport board so I put in what they had the year before, but they are having a meeting on May 5 and I will know more then. Also, the Cowboy Days Committee is having a hard time finding sponsors and may ask for more this year,” Lym told the council.

“We can put the requests in the budget but with the understanding that it depends on the money we have then,” Mayor Kent Williams said.

The mayor and the council acknowledged that this work session would be the last one for Evanston City Clerk Nancy Stevenson, as she will be retiring in May. Stevenson was heartedly applauded and thanked by all council members and the mayor.

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