Chandler dairy in technology area for sale - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Chandler dairy in technology area for sale

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Posted: Friday, April 3, 2009 6:20 pm | Updated: 12:31 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Kuiper Dairy on Chandler's Price Road technology corridor is back up for sale, but at about half the price the owners were asking 18 months ago.

Chandler officials have stepped in to help find a large corporate buyer who could use the 65-acre site for an office campus or a research and development facility, said Lori Quan, a Chandler economic development specialist. Chandler actively courts large high-tech businesses to relocate to Price Road.

Brad Kuiper, grandson of the dairy's founder, Harold Kuiper, said several potential buyers have expressed interest in the family-run dairy, at Price and Willis roads.

"We've had some groups that kind of kicked the tires," he said.

In the past, developers approached the family on a daily basis about buying the land. But with the economic downturn, the offers don't come as often.

"For years, it was 'the prettiest girl at the dance,'" Kuiper said. "With the commercial climate right now, it's hard to find a buyer."

The dairy market has changed, as well, he said. The Kuiper Dairy, considered state-of-the art when it was built in 1975, is now considered small by industry standards. The dairy has the capacity to milk about 700 cows a day, compared with 1,500 cows for the average dairy in Arizona, Kuiper said.

Urban development has caught up with the dairy, which was in operation before Price and Willis roads were paved, he said. As neighborhoods moved in around the dairy, the new residents complained about some of the heavy work and odors associated with the business.

The dairy is one of the last remaining in Chandler. The area used to also have cows and cotton, he said.

"(Chandler) is growing up, and that's just the natural process of things," Kuiper said. "We realize the dairy no longer fits within the Chandler footprint. It took us years to convince our grandfather to sell."

The family was approached by a potential buyer in 2007, but the deal fell through last year, Kuiper said. The cattle were sold off in January in an attempt to make the site more attractive to developers.

"We thought it would help sell the dairy if we're no longer milking cows there," he said.

The dairy was put back on the market in January, and the family now expects to get only 50 percent to 60 percent of what it had previously asked. The asking price is about $17.5 million, Kuiper said.

Without a buyer, the family said in the next several months it could bring cattle back to the lot.

"There's no cash flow right now," Kuiper said.

Quan said city officials, along with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, highlight the dairy's availability in their efforts to attract large corporations to Chandler.

Several, including a solar power firm, have expressed interest, although Quan said she couldn't release information on potential buyers.

Despite the steep drop in the property's value, Kuiper said the family believes it's a good time to sell. The family is looking to purchase farmland elsewhere in Arizona or out of state, outside the periphery of urban development. There are some deals to be had on farmland, he said.

"There are so many good opportunities out there from an agricultural standpoint," Kuiper said. "We don't feel like we're leaving money on the table. I would argue that even at these lower values we feel it's a good opportunity to look to the future."

The family owns another dairy in Buckeye, and about 1,900 acres of farmland in the Texas Panhandle.

"Our family knows agriculture," he said. "We know farming and that, ultimately, is what we do."

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