After more than 70 years of producing concrete in the 900 block of Railroad, Cornwall and Second streets in downtown Perry, the ready-mix operation will soon move to the 100 block of Willis Avenue, cheek by jowl with the old Black Knight and now the Exhaust Pros.
Concrete Supply Inc. dba Central Iowa Ready Mix Inc. bought the 10.26-acre property in February for $224,840 from Carl Stuckenholtz, according to county records. The Perry Planning and Zoning Commission approved a site plan Tuesday for the new Concrete Supply Inc. location based on a recommendation from Bolton and Menk, the city’s engineering consultants.
The site plan will now come before the Perry City Council.
“It’s kind of a joint deal between us and the city,” said Tim Janssen, vice president of Concrete Supply Inc. “When we purchased that property from American Concrete, we knew it wasn’t the place we wanted to be, not with the city trying to revitalize and everything.”
Like most of the industrial properties in Perry’s downtown district, the location of the concrete plant was originally dictated by its proximity to the railroad. Once the railroads were abandoned in the 1970s and 1980s, the industries were left standing out of place.
“The city touched base with us,” Janssen said, “and we were on board with wanting to get out of the downtown. We worked with the city to find some property that would suit us and that would move our traffic flow out of the middle of downtown. We wanted to be good neighbors and do our part in serving the community.”
The west-side location will provide the concrete company direct access to Iowa Highway 141.
“We’ve been looking at doing something anyway,” said Keith Kuennen, general manager of Central Iowa Ready Mix. “That downtown plant is pretty old and inefficient. We’ll be moving into a new plant out there that will be a lot more efficient and a site that is neat and orderly and environmentally efficient. The city wants the site where we’re at, so we’ll be moving to the west side.”
The downtown properties — 915 Railroad St. and 908 Cornwall St. — consist of six lots crossed diagonally by the old Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway right of way. If the city of Perry acquires the land, it could straighten the route of the Raccoon River Valley Trail by following the old rail bed.
The lots could also possibly be used for parking for the bike trail and DMACC, according to Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson.
“We’re still in the dreaming-planning process right now,” Peterson said. “Within the last six to 12 months, we found out that acquiring the property would be a possibility, and we’re still trying to figure out how we can redevelop that area. Hopefully, we can find a way to extend the downtown and improve the entrance to downtown and the community on the bike trail.”
Grading at Concrete Supply’s new location might start this winter or in the spring, Janssen said, so the city’s hopes for the downtown lots lie further in the future.
“It’s all kind of theoretical at this point,” said Peterson. “There’s no guarantee that we’ll even get our hands on it, but things are looking positive. It’ll be a neat opportunity for a redevelopment project, and it’s in the Opportunity Zone, so we’re hoping to find some investors to get a project done.”
Charles F. Steward opened the Perry Concrete Co. in 1948, and Parke J. Steece bought the business in 1950. The 50-foot-high bucket elevator and bulk cement storage silo were built on Cornwall Street in 1956. Boone Construction Inc. dba Perry Ready Mix operated the plant from 1958 to 1999, when it was bought out by Nuckolls Concrete Services Inc. dba American Concrete.
The current owner, Concrete Supply Inc. dba Central Iowa Ready Mix Inc., bought out Nuckolls in 2016. Concrete Supply has three employees at the Perry plant but about 200 workers company wide. The company’s suppliers provide rock, sand, cement powder and flash powder, and the ready-mix operation combines the materials to produce concrete.