North Park Commons and Industrial Park North continue to be a changing landscape.
“If you want to take a drive, go down 33rd Avenue, turn onto Yost, and you’re going to see lots of heavy equipment digging holes in the ground, putting buildings up,” Michael Krings, executive director of the Hastings Economic Development Corp., said at the HEDC annual meeting in January.
Not only are new buildings going up in Industrial Park North, but planning is under way for two new streets there near HEDC’s speculative building — Utecht Circle and Utecht Avenue — which will open up additional industrial lots.
“It’s exciting to see not only are we doing this, but there’s quite a nice demand for industrial lots in the area,” Krings said. “So we’re excited for that. A lot of people have been contacting us.
“We’re excited about all the activity happening in the area in Industrial Park North. There’s obviously demand and there’s obviously a lot of excitement in this area.”
Across the state, Krings said, the No. issue is workforce.
“When you start talking about workforce, housing is the No. 1 issue facing every community in the state,” he said. “HEDC took a proactive approach and said, ‘We need to be more proactive in how we approach workforce housing in this community.’ This is how North Park Commons came about.”
City officials learned in April 2018 that Hastings would receive $850,000 in Rural Workforce Housing Development funds to help spur workforce housing in the community.
North Park Commons has been identified as the project to benefit from the funds.
HEDC will serve as the nonprofit development organization overseeing the local Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act funds.
Members of the Hastings City Council approved in March 2018 a resolution authorizing the use of up to $1 million from Hastings Utilities’ economic development funds as a match.
HEDC purchased 93 acres in north Hastings in 2017. The property is just east of existing businesses along Osborne Drive East between 26th and 33rd streets, and north of the building that houses Dunham’s Sports and Tractor Supply.
The objective of the development project is to bring to market property to encourage commercial and retail development, hospitality, multi-family housing, single-family homes, and senior and/or student targeted housing. HEDC will serve as master developer for the site, and it will work to recruit private investment opportunities to undertake site-specific, ground-up developments.
Final preparations are being done before construction begins on a Hampton Inn there.
Contracts are also in place on lot 1 and lot 2 in the commercial space.
At full build out, HEDC would like to see more than 60 single-family home lots, 200-300 units of multi-family housing, about 15 acres available for retail and commercial development, and more than 10 acres for senior housing or another campus-type targeted residential development.
“I’m excited about bringing some traditional apartment complexes to this community,” Krings said. “We all saw there was a huge demand.”
Already, work has begun on the Osborne View Estates residential townhomes along 26th Street by Mesner Development of Central City.
“If you go out there you see dirt being moved,” Krings said.
Mesner Development also built East Side Estates senior living housing on Minnesota Avenue.
“They have been a breath of fresh air for us in the community to be able to come in and do a lot of the things they’ve done,” Krings said about Mesner.
Work should begin this year on infrastructure within the North Park Commons footprint to develop single-family housing.
“This year we hope to build out some streets and some infrastructure to get back to really what was the impetus for North Park Commons and that was this residential, single-family home block,” Krings said. “A lot of good things going on out at North Park Commons.”
During the HEDC annual meeting Krings thanked Bob Wilson for the work he put into the project.
Wilson, who retired from his position as general manager at Flowserve in Hastings, handled HEDC’s real estate holdings for nearly a year between when former HEDC executive director Dave Rippe resigned to become director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and when Krings became the new HEDC executive director.
“We all have grand ideas of what retirement looks like,” Krings said. “Well, for him it was a full-time job. Not only did he just make sure it got done, I have no doubt that what Bob brought to HEDC during that time improved tenfold what we were able to do out here with Industrial Park North and North Park Commons. We were in a position, probably, that HEDC has never been in in regards to the amount of property development and Bob not only stepped in to take care of it but he raised it to another level. We as a corporation owe Bob a great deal of gratitude.”