WEBB CITY, Mo.— Webb City’s housing developments and commercial district continue to expand, officials announced enthusiastically Thursday during the annual State of the City Luncheon hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Lynn Ragsdale noted how the city has been welcoming the business community over the years.

“Our welcome mat is out, and we really do mean it,” Ragsdale said. “We want businesses and want folks to help us make our vision a reality, which it is, but even more so a great place to live, work and play.”

Carl Francis, city administrator, discussed the city’s efforts of securing additional retailers in Centennial Park, a 300-acre retail and industrial development area near interstates 44 and 49. The city invested nearly $3 million to repurpose the former mining land into a commercial park, which will soon be home to a new Atwoods store, as well as a hotel and convention center.

“We are growing very quickly,” Francis said. “Just this morning, I had a guy walk into my office, give me his card, and said that he was building some houses" elsewhere in the area, but no more. "He wants to come to Webb City because he sees how easy it is and how we work with them, instead of handing them a set rules and an application. We do work hard to make it easy.”

Atwoods, which broke ground on a 100,000-square-foot building in April, plans to have the $2.89 million development open in May. Francis said the business has not set an official opening date yet.

“Nobody can buy land out there and just speculate," Francis said. "We don’t allow that. We only sell the land with a performance agreement that we know exactly where they’re going to build it and a timeline they have to build it on.”

The proposed projects in Centennial include a coin-operated laundry and an upholstery shop. Francis said he had really hoped to see construction start already on the multimillion-dollar hotel and convention center by ECWB Properties.

“Wes Barnum of ECWB is working with another developer to maybe split the project,” he said. “It has caused kind of a delay, which is understandable.”

Growth numbers

Eight-one residential building permits representing more than $50 million were filed with the city last year. The Redwood Garden Estates senior living project off Fountain Road contributed to more than half of that number at about $27 million.

“We have really seen massive growth in our residential area, and it’s been year after year, not just last year or the year before last,” Francis said.

Commercial growth in Webb City has also been expanding over the years. In 2015, about $630,000 was spent on new construction and $4.3 million on remodeling the Freeman Clinic. Numbers rose the following year, when $922,000 was spent on new construction and $868,000 on remodeling.

“It’s significant when local businesses are spending the money to enhance their properties,” Francis said. “One of the big ones here on Main Street is, of course, Cardinal Scale. We appreciate what they’re doing, and we work with them.”

Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Co. invested $2.8 million in its recent remodel.

In the works

• Webb City’s annual spring festival, Route 66 Cruise-A-Palooza, will be changing dates this year from April to the second weekend in July, and King Jack Park will be the location for festival activities. The new date is from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 13. Live entertainment will be featured in the King Jack Park amphitheater. The event will have streetcar and street trolley rides, a carnival on Main Street, food trucks and craft vendors in the commons area, as well as a retail sidewalk sale downtown. The band Big Smitty will be the festival’s headliner.

• The second year of the King Jack Park Summer Concert Series will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, excluding July, from May through September in the park. The event will feature a variety of live music each month.

News reporter

Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction and Webb City.