The Iron Eagle golf course is vital to a planned multi-million dollar residential community just west of the course, a developer told the city council Monday.

Speaking to the council in a work session, Roger Bullington of Chief Industries and Development of Grand Island said preliminary plans are underway for a golf cart community, where residents could travel by cart from stores at the I-80 / U.S. 83 intersection all the way to the Iron Eagle golf course.

Bullington also envisions multi-family / apartment housing in that area, if the demand warrants. He said the overall cost of the project could be $20-50 million, depending on extensive it becomes.

Hike-bike trails along the river are part of the plans.

Bullington said uncertainly about the future of Iron Eagle is a detriment to the plans, because the golf course is very important to the project.

He said Chief developers would be fussy about the appearances of the community.

“We don’t want it to look bad from I-80,” he said. “It should be some fairly high rent space.”

The area will have from 50-100 senior living homes for ages 55 and over, Bullington said. He said construction of the residential area is probably a couple years away. He hopes the development would qualify for tax increment financing as well as the city’s quality growth funds.

He said without support from community leaders, the project won’t be built.

Councilman Ty Lucas asked Bullington if he considered the design of Iron Eagle, and if flood control there seems adequate.

Bullington said he is not qualified to really answer that, but he noted that more users would certainly help the course.

In response to another question from Lucas, Bullington said he would theoretically prefer the city owned the course rather than a private developer, because city ownership tends to be more stable.

He said Chief Enterprises owned a golf course for nine years, and the company knows how tough it is to turn a profit.

If Iron Eagle were sold, it would have to be to the right owner, he told Lucas.

“The wrong owner could let it run down, which would certainly be a detriment to what we want to accomplish,” he said.

During the discussion, he said if a developer runs into too much opposition, they simply move on to another city.

In response to a question from councilman Glenn Petersen, Bullington said Chief Development generally contracts 50-75% of the concrete, steel and electrical work to local crews.


Another plan, industrial park

Bullington had another set of plans to show the council too.

He said Chief intends to build industrial storage and warehouse units in the Twin River Industrial Park south of the city off E. State Farm Road, west of the Wal-Mart Distribution Center.

A handful of large buildings would be built in phase 1 of the project, with the aim of selling or leasing them to other companies to store equipment and materials.

If all goes well, several more storage buildings would be erected in phase 2, he said.

Bullington said work on that project could begin as early as October if all goes well. Chief will seek quality growth incentive funds for the project.

Quality growth funds accumulate from a slice of the city’s share of sales tax income. The slice is earmarked for incentives for development; it can be granted or loaned to a developer.

North Platte’s quality growth fund currently totals about $3.8 million, according to city records.

Bullington said Great Plains Health’s medical services, coupled with housing are strong assets, putting North Platte in position for growth.

He added that workforce development is another key ingredient for growth.


About Chief Industries

Chief Industries is a 65-year-old manufacturing company that started with grain and bulk feed storage and material handling, then added metal commercial and farm buildings, and expanded into steel fabrication, trucking, commercial construction and other business activities.

The development side of the company co-developed the Haymarket district in downtown Lincoln, and is currently working on a large residential development in Grand Island, Bullington said.