I-78/81 interchange keeps on growing

What looks like a slam dunk now — building job-creating logistics centers and warehouses in the area of interstates 78 and 81 in Lebanon County — took decades to line up.

But since international, national and regional companies built multimillion-dollar facilities that employ hundreds of people in the last decade there, that piece of Union Township has been a hotbed for construction of distribution centers.

Now it’s getting even more of a boost, with two separate construction projects underway along Old Forge Road that will bring almost 2 million square feet of warehouse space to an area that already includes four of the 15 largest employers in the county.

Gene Preston, a partner at Dermody Properties’ East Region, said he has had his eye on the area since the mid-2000s, but it was a matter of getting the infrastructure there.

“There is not a lot of available space when you’re talking about major distribution facilities in Central Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley or northeast Pennsylvania,” Preston said. “We’ve seen some movement in areas like e-commerce, and we’ve got lots of tenants looking for space. This is a good spot to build right now.”

New construction projects

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The first to start construction off Old Forge Road was Clarion Brothers, which, in a partnership with developer MRP Industrial of Baltimore, is building the Gateway Logistics Park. The park will contain two buildings, one with just more than 1 million square feet of space, the other with 500,000 square feet.

Reno, Nev.-based Dermody Properties, which is active in the Harrisburg area, started construction in late summer on the LogistiCenter at 78-81, a 405,000-square-foot facility. The company paid about $5 million for the property but does not disclose construction prices.

Both are speculative builds being marketed for lease to potential tenants. The firm Jones Lang LaSalle is marketing the Gateway Logistics Center, while CBRE is marketing the LogistiCenter.

Both properties, on the south side of Fisher Avenue and abutting the north lanes of I-81, were sold off separately in the last two years by Plymouth Meeting-based Vision Group Ventures.

What’s already there

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Michael Sadowski

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