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Goodman Birtcher exec talks logistics on warehousing

Goodman Birtcher’s plan for more than 2 million square feet of warehouses in Cumberland County has drawn a passionate response.

Like many plans involving hundreds of truck trips weekly, opposition quickly mounted. With the entire project vetted, it has come down to the numbers: Goodman Birtcher touted the 900 jobs the plan would create, while the scope of the plan made some neighbors nervous.

Dickinson Township agreed to rezone 86 acres in its business recreation district along Allen Road to business industrial. Now Carlisle will take up the plan. Goodman Birtcher is asking the borough to permit warehousing in the I-C zoning district so it can construct a road to the facility that would allow trucks to access it from Allen Road.

Part of the plan is in South Middleton Township, but rezoning is not required there.

Troy Briggs, regional director of development and investments (East Coast) at Goodman Birtcher, agreed to answer questions about the company’s local plan, as well as its approach to logistics in general.

Q: How does Goodman Birtcher strategize coming into a community?

A: First and foremost, we look to locations that have many of the same attributes of the site on Allen Road: nearby highway access, available land suited for the type of use and near other distribution or logistics facilities. Communities like Dickinson (Township), South Middleton and Carlisle are terrific in that there is already an understanding of the industry and the business community is solidly behind the project.

One obvious difference that you see in this area is that political structures are very well defined, and the process for developing a project is well known. In other areas of the country, there is no zoning, or you have very large counties making decisions. This can be both an advantage as well as a challenge to getting a project approved.

What kind of market research led you to conclude Cumberland County can support more than 2 million square feet of warehouses?

The growth of e-commerce and online purchasing has created a change in the logistics industry. Online retailers like Amazon, DSW, Nordstrom and others are seeking locations for their logistics centers that are closer to their customers. In addition, Cumberland County has a profound advantage over other areas of the country in that it is well served by freight rail service, east-west and north-south interstate highways and is in close proximity to large population centers.

We saw a distinct need for a new generation of logistics centers for users like Amazon or Nordstrom as there currently are no vacant class “A” buildings with more than 700,000 square feet of available space, which is the market for the Goodman Logistics Center.

John Hilton

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