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Redevelopment focuses on 'good news' for local plant

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The sign in front of the FB Distro facility on Indianapolis Road still refers to it as a Charming Shoppes Inc. distribution facility.
From all indications, it was good news coming out of this week's Greencastle Redevelopment Commission meeting.

Good news ... just not any or many real specifics.

It all concerns Greencastle Redevelopment Commission Resolution 2012-3 creating an economic revitalization area for FB Distro/Ascena Retail Group Inc.

The Redevelopment Commission unanimously passed the resolution concerning the FB Distro property at 1901 E. State Road 240 Wednesday evening, and it will get final consideration from the Greencastle City Council when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The approvals are the initial steps toward securing revised tax abatement on the same property.

The latest resolution became necessary because of a change in the ownership of FB Distro Inc. Since passage of a similar resolution for FB Distro relative to a planned expansion project it announced with an appearance by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on March 7, parent company Charming Shoppes Inc. of Bensalem, Pa., has been sold.

With that sale, FB Distro is now a part of Ascena Retail Group, a national specialty retailer of apparel for women and girls, operating through subsidiaries such as The Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice brands.

The resolutions being considered by the Redevelopment Commission and City Council now reflect that Ascena association, although Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Bill Dory explained that a press release detailing Ascena's future local plans is still to come.

Ascena, he told the comission, has revised the proposed project FB Distro officials announced in March as creating 135 new jobs here by 2014. Ascena has also submitted a revised application for real and personal property tax abatement, Dory said.

Regardless, the revised project will represent "increased job creation and investment," Dory told the Redevelopment Commission.

"This is really good news," Mayor Sue Murray responded.

"This is great news," City Attorney Laurie Hardwick agreed.

Yet even after joining commission members Erika Gilmore, Drew Brattain and Jim Ruark in approving the resolution, Gary Lemon was struck by the relative vagueness of the proposal paperwork.

"Tell me why this is great news," he suggested to Dory.

For that, Dory turned to Jason D. Dunkle of GBQ Partners of Columbus, Ohio, who attended the meeting representing Ascena.

"While no final decision has been made," Dunkle said, "they're (Ascena) looking heavily at this site for including it as their e-commerce distribution center moving forward."

FB Distro, which has served as the Midwest distribution facility for Charming Shoppes, has undertaken three previous expansions of the former IBM Corp. facility on the north side of Indianapolis Road and now functions with a 794,000-square-foot facility on a 123-acre site.

Overall, Charming Shoppes has operated nearly 1,900 retail stores (65 in Indiana) in 48 states under the names Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Fashion Bug Plus, Cacique and Catherine's Plus Sizes.

Ascena operates some 2,600 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.

According to a press release posted on its website, Ascena has announced that based on the results of its strategic review of Charming Shoppes' operations, it plans to close down the Fashion Bug business by early 2013.

In 2011, Charming closed 124 Fashion Bug stores and had previously announced its intention to continue to close certain Fashion Bug sites.

In addition, Ascena announced that it is exploring a potential sale of Charming Shoppes' Figi's business, which markets food and specialty gift products.

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Basically,bribing company not to leave....Gary Lemon asked the REAL question!

-- Posted by kubotafan on Sat, Sep 8, 2012, at 10:41 AM

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