Officials at local clothing distributor F.B. Distro are hoping to increase the number of retail stores they supply by as much as 50 percent following a decision by the Greencastle City Council Tuesday night.
Bill Mancuso, vice president of distribution and logistics for Charming Shoppes of Bensalem, Pa., the parent company of F.B. Distro, told the BannerGraphic that the Greencastle plant currently supplies 1,500 retail stores throughout the United States, including those owned by Fashion Bug, Lane Bryant and Petite Sophisticate Outlet Stores. They operate from a 1.1-million-square-foot building on State Road 240 which they share with Area 30 Career Center and Ivy Tech State College.
With the addition of 34,000 square feet of space and an $11.8 million investment in construction and equipment, Mancuso says the Greencastle facility will have the potential of expanding its customer base to 2,500 stores.
"This is our third expansion here in Greencastle so this is great news," Mancuso said.
Plans for the expansion took another step forward Tuesday night with the city council voting unanimously to grant F.B. Distro a 10-year tax abatement for new sorting equipment that it intends to purchase for the project.
Mancuso said estimates are that the new equipment will mean the addition of 18 jobs at the Greencastle facility, but the potential exists for more workers. Right now the plant employs around 269 workers.
With the abatement in hand, Mancuso says company officials are hoping to complete the first phase of the expansion by December of 2007, to be followed by a second and final phase in 2008.
In other factory-related matters, the council gave its unanimous voice of support to the city's Redevelopment Commission to enter into a partnership with a Terre Haute firm to construct a spec building on empty industrial land owned by the city of Greencastle.
The land, known as the Sgt. Cunningham Property, is located on Fillmore Road just north of Lear Corporation and DBX.
City officials have been talking for several months about partnering with Garmong Construction Services to construct a building on the lot with hopes of attracting a potential buyer. Last night council members said they supported the Redevelopment Commission's desire to sell the property to Garmong who would then pay to construct the building and market it for sale.
For the city's share, the Redevelopment Commission would pay for the addition of sanitary sewer lines to the property and the construction of a road extension back to the building site, a distance of approximately one-quarter mile. The preliminary estimate for the cost of the road and sewer lines is between $500,000 and $550,000.
"We do have funds in the bank from redevelopment to do this," Greencastle/Putnam County Development Director Bill Dory told the council.
Additionally, the commission would be responsible for securing or paying the annual interest on a 10-year loan to construct the building. Dory estimated the interest at approximately $130,000-140,000 per year to be paid to the financial institution responsible for loaning the money. He said the Redevelopment Commission has the available funds to cover that cost as well.
Attending Tuesday night's council meeting was Garmong's Business Development Director Dan Zuerner.
He told the council that the building would be between 30,000 and 60,000 square feet in size and of Nucor steel construction. The exterior would be mostly completed, but the interior would be unfinished and made to suit whoever buys or leases the property.
Buyers would have the option of purchasing the building outright, leasing it or leasing to own it.
Dory said companies tend to seek out spec buildings because they can finish them according to their needs. It would be the first building of its kind to be constructed by the city of Greencastle. Garmong, however, has built similar structures in Terre Haute and Winchester.
Provided the Redevelopment Commis-sion approves the agreement and signs the contract in the next few months, Zuerner says he believes the new building could go up by the end of this year. An additional three months would be needed to finish off the the interior of the building once a buyer is secured, he said.
As for the land that the building would sit on, Dory said the city would have to get two appraisals and agree to sell it to Garmong before any construction could begin.