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Scaled-back plan would build 1.1M-square-foot warehouses, add 500 jobs

By , - Last modified: January 31, 2014 at 11:44 AM
Location for the two warehouses totaling 1.1 million square feet and adding about 500 jobs in Shippensburg Township.
Location for the two warehouses totaling 1.1 million square feet and adding about 500 jobs in Shippensburg Township.

BPG Properties is back with a scaled-down plan to turn farmland off Interstate 81 in Shippensburg Township into two warehouses totaling about 1.1 million square feet on 78 acres.

According to studies done by the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., the project would add 500 jobs and bring in $521,000 annually in local, school and county tax dollars.

BPG has sought to develop the site directly off Exit 29 for several years, at one point receiving land development approval for a large-scale plan involving warehouses, a hotel and a restaurant. With a total of about 300 acres, the site crossed municipal boundaries.

“Part of the problem there was the size of the development, the number of trucks and the bridge,” said Steve Oldt, supervisor in Shippensburg Township.

With two other plans for hotels in the township, Oldt said, BPG returned to the township recently with a scaled-down plan on the 78 acres located within Shippensburg Township. The plan is viewed favorably by township officials, he said, as well as the state Department of Transportation.

A meeting with PennDOT this week yielded agreement on general improvements surrounding the site, Oldt said, removing the biggest hurdle to development.

“That location has been a very attractive site for the past few years,” said Jonathan Bowser, CEO of CAEDC. “There’s a few issues we’ve had at that site, and one of them is transportation. There needs to be some infrastructure improvements.

“The landowners, from our perspective, have a good plan to move forward with that,” Bowser added.

Those improvements include widening Route 174 and the I-81 southbound off-ramp, Bowser said. In addition, Oldt said, three traffic signals are on the table: one at the eastern-most intersection with Walnut Bottom Road and one each at ramps to both I-81 north and south.

The tenant is a mystery. Carl Bert of Carl Bert & Associates in Shippensburg is the engineer on the project. Bert declined comment.

Amy Kaufman, director of economic development at GMS Funding Solutions in South Middleton Township, is also working on the project. She referred questions to John E. Knott of Equus Capital Partners. BPG Properties is a division of Equus.

Knott did not return phone calls seeking comment.

“We’re comfortable with it,” Oldt said. “They don’t have a tenant yet that I’m aware. They need to get a tenant and complete some expensive stuff.”

Because of its location, the site is desirable to developers. In 2010, a Fortune 500 company considered the BPG site and vowed its investment would add 1,000 jobs. But the company rejected the site because the state wouldn’t upgrade roads and build a highway overpass.

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