The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 5, 2013

Engineer: Target wants to resume building distribution center

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— ALLENWOOD — Target Corp. appears ready to get back to its 166-acre, $7 million site at the Great Stream Commons business park in Gregg Township, seeking an extension to its land development plan there and proposing to upgrade an access road to the property.

The request includes reducing the bond guarantee that the Minneapolis-based chain store retailer has on the site. That amount began at $26 million but was reduced to about $18 million for work Target has done at Great Stream Commons. Target now would like the bond lowered to about $3.1 million because of money the company has already invested in the project. This would include site maintenance and work contingent on construction resuming.

Target would restart work on a 1.6 million-square-foot distribution center it stopped five years ago, driven by economic conditions at the time. Its land development plan expired this year.

Lake Randall, president of Mid-Penn Engineering, briefed officials of Gregg Township and the Union County Industrial Development Corp. on Target’s proposal, including improvements to 850 feet of Russell Road, a county road that leads from Route 15 to Target’s site.

This would include removing the topsoil, widening the road, paving it in full depth, redoing pavement markings and signs and doing extra shoulder work.

On the land development side, Target is agreeing to make improvements Gregg Township officials have asked for, to include upgraded and detailed plans, stormwater management and maintenance, clarifying the frequency of mowing brush and increasing that mowing from 19 acres to 30 acres.

The measures show Target is committed to its spot at the Allenwood site, despite having to stop building there five years ago, Randall told the supervisors.

“Target is improving (the property) on the basis that they will build, or they wouldn’t be doing this,” Randall said.

If the retailer did back out for some reason, language in the contract for “the event of non-construction” would allow the land to return to a natural state.

Township supervisors seemed skeptical of Target’s motives, however. Supervisor Paul Campbell Jr., for instance, said if Target is serious about the matter, why doesn’t it finish all of Russell Road.

“They didn’t put the paving down. Stage 2 should have come and gone already,” Campbell said, adding that such a measure would be an act of good faith in the supervisors’ eyes.

Randall said he would approach Target with the requests, and all agreed to read over the road development plan for next meeting.

The original land development plan was approved in 2008, when Target broke ground on a distribution center at the Allenwood site but stopped the project after two months during the national economic downturn.

Target’s move on the land development plan is encouraging, said Donald Alexander, president of the Union County Industrial Development Corp., which is responsible for attracting tenants to the park near Allenwood.

“It shows Target is still committed to the site, which they’ve verbally asserted all along,” he said. “This is a concrete indication that supports that.”

The department store chain purchased a 166-acre site in the park in 2006 for $7 million. In August 2008, Target broke ground on a 1.6 million-square-foot distribution center that it planned to open in 2010, but it stopped construction two months later.

Target projected the distribution center would generate roughly 800 jobs locally, including truck drivers, material handlers and security guards.

Union County commissioners bought the land and developed Great Stream Commons, a 670-acre park in Gregg Township, about 13 years ago after an effort by USPCI to put a hazardous-waste incinerator there was abandoned.