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The Southwest Missouri Rail and Business Park is in development near Interstate 44 in Strafford.
SBJ file photo
The Southwest Missouri Rail and Business Park is in development near Interstate 44 in Strafford.

Strafford industrial park gains first tenant

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A 220-acre Strafford industrial park announced last fall has its first confirmed tenant, according to city officials.

Strafford City Administrator Martha Smartt said one of the 18 lots for the Southwest Missouri Rail and Business Park has a commitment from St. Louis-based occupational footwear company Warson Group Inc., which does business as Warson Brands. The company recently submitted plans to the city for a 160,000-square-foot distribution warehouse on 10 acres at the industrial park near Interstate 44 and the BNSF Railway Co. line. The project cost was not disclosed.

Smartt said company officials told her the facility is expected to be operational by the end of the year. Steve Everding, vice president of operations with Warson Brands, was not available for comment by deadline.

“We have recognized I-44 and rail corridor as our economic engine,” Smartt said. “Utilizing that corridor to encourage commercial growth is key to addressing many of the needs of our community.”

Warson Brands provides a variety of work footwear with brand names including Reebok, Rockport Works and Florsheim Shoes, according to its website.

The industrial park with rail access is under development via South West Missouri Rail and Business Park LLC. Local developer Titus Williams is a partner on the project with John Kramer and Brad Williams of Williams and Kramer LLC, and Rich Kramer and Bob Kramer of Rich Kramer Construction Inc. The group bought the acreage at Route 66 and Highway 125 in July 2019, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

The project picked up support from Strafford city officials in September when the Board of Aldermen approved a tax increment financing plan for up to $13.7 million. The TIF reimbursements are in addition to $85.5 million in private investment, according to city documents. Titus Williams previously told SBJ infrastructure work for water, sewer, gutter, roads, rail and street lighting is expected to cost $18.5 million before the sites are developed.

Smartt said the city has received no other site plans from companies seeking to do business in the industrial park. Williams didn’t return messages seeking comment by deadline.

After receiving initial approval from the city’s Board of Aldermen at its Jan. 20 meeting, the developers’ preliminary plat for the industrial park is due to come back before the board for a second and final vote Feb. 3, Smartt said.

“After that, they are able to move forward with breaking ground and actually building infrastructure,” she said.

Williams said in September sites are $65,000-$70,000 per acre, with developer cash incentives available. Smartt said Warson Brands purchased 10 acres in the park in December, noting the company’s plans are independent from the preliminary plat under review.

City staff is currently reviewing the Warson Brands facility plans, Smartt said, adding the process will conclude soon.

“We would then be in a position to issue permits for construction,” she said.

Additionally, the Strafford development plan includes a 24-unit multifamily housing project designed to create a buffer between the industrial park and residential neighborhoods, according to past SBJ reporting.

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