Building Buffalo is a regular feature highlighting progress on development projects throughout the region.
Project name: FedEx Ground Transport facility
Address: 3779 Lakeshore Boulevard, Hamburg
Developer: FedEx Corp./Jones Development Co.
Cost: $51 million
Government assistance: Sales, mortgage and property tax breaks from Hamburg IDA
Description: Construction of new 317,000-square-foot distribution facility capable of handling 15,000 packages an hour
Completion date: October 2016
Lowdown: Global shipping giant FedEx Corp. has completed the bulk of work on its new distribution facility in Hamburg, including construction itself, and is now preparing to open the site by mid-October.
The Memphis-based company is phasing in the building by function over the next two months, as it finishes preparing, installing and testing its new material-handling equipment, such as conveyor belts, scanners and processing machines, said spokesman David Westrick. The facility will employ about 150 workers. The new conveyor belts were largely manufactured in Buffalo by Habasit America Inc., formerly Globe International, a century-old company that also supplies most of the belts for UPS and Amazon.com.
“It’s a big building. We don’t flip the switch on one day and say everything’s here and up and running,” said Westrick, who said the company opens about 70 such facilities every year. “We take a very systematic approach to opening a building. We have to make sure it’s running smoothly and packages are going in and out.”
FedEx built the ground transport center on part of the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. property near the intersection of Route 5 and Bayview Road. The project was constructed on a 51-acre parcel just south of the Ford Motor Co.’s Buffalo Stamping Plant that Kansas City developer Jones Development Co. acquired from the town for $1.22 million. It’s the largest construction project in the town since McKinley Mall.
Construction of the massive facility was mired in controversy at various times over millions of dollars in sales, mortgage and property tax breaks for the company from the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency, as well as a state lawmaker’s push to ensure unionized labor was involved in construction.
The facility, which cost $31 million to build and $20 million to equip, is part of a nationwide network expansion by FedEx, which has added 11 major hubs and expanded 500 other facilities since 2005 to boost its daily package capacity and speed up processing, in response to a significant increase in its shipping business.
FedEx maintains its big ground transportation operation in Cheektowaga, but also has four office printing and shipping stores in the area. Its affiliated FedEx Trade Networks Transport & Brokerage division, the custom brokerage operation for its international ground service, opened a new $5.2 million, 88,000-square-foot facility in Riverview Solar Technology Park in the Town of Tonawanda, with more than 1,000 employees.
– Jonathan D. Epstein