Pleasanton plans to use grant funds to attract new business

Updated: Mar 24

Pleasanton city officials are hoping that a grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce will enable the city to build a building that will draw a sit-down restaurant or other type of business to town. (Upsplash stock photo)

PLEASANTON – An action by the Pleasanton City Council on Monday, Feb. 28, cleared the way for the city to use the remainder of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as the city’s match for a Building A Stronger America (BASE) grant. Both ARPA and BASE are federally funded programs, with the BASE grant administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Originally ARPA funds were designed for use for projects dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, new rules for that program last month has allowed broader use of the funds.

The city was able to declare the remaining $108,000 of its $177,000 ARPA money as a lost-revenue deduction. The city received a portion of its ARPA allotment in 2021 with the remainder received in 2022.

At the beginning of the meeting Pleasanton Mayor Michael Frisbie praised City Manager Theresa Whitaker for putting considerable effort into the BASE grant application. He noted that there was only a short window to complete the grant application.

The application is to build a shell building across the street from the Clinch Realty building near the East Sixth Street and Tucker Road intersection. Although the concept for the building is based in providing a structure for a sit-down restaurant business, Whitaker said the building would not be limited to that specific use.

“Ideally, it would be a restaurant,” she said, noting that only place to purchase prepared food now in addition to the selection at Casey’s General Store was Cookees Drive-in.

The cost of the building is estimated to be nearly $432,800, with about $108,000 coming from remaining ARPA funds and the remaining $324,800 from the BASE grant, Whitaker said.

The city had initially tried to broker a deal with Clinch Realty to purchase its building, which formerly housed the Pumpin’ Pete’s convenience store along with sit-down dining. In exchange for the $300,000 purchase price, Clinch would build a three-plex west of the current Casey’s location.

However, Whitaker said that Clinch Realty owner Brandon McGinnis withdrew from the deal citing too many critics of the deal and the need for more unity among the residents of Pleasanton.

Acknowledging that there are still critics of the plans to build a speculative building instead of making much-needed repairs to city streets, Council Member Jake Mattingley noted in Monday’s meeting that the intent was to sell the building. The proceeds of that sale could then be used to take on other public improvement projects.

Calling the project an investment, Mattingley pointed out that a business moving into that building would generate sales tax revenue for the city as well.

The BASE grants are meant to develop business opportunities for cities and counties. Linn County has applied for $1.4 million in BASE funds to be used to develop utilities for a portion of the Linn County Industrial Park just south of Pleasanton. According to Jessica Hightower, economic development director for the county, the competition for the grants will be intense.

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