Orgill plan gets city board OK

David Hill
Staff writer
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Posted 9/4/19

The Orgill distribution center project planned for land that once held Air Force base housing at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park won key approvals from the Rome Planning Board — but the …

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Orgill plan gets city board OK

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The Orgill distribution center project planned for land that once held Air Force base housing at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park won key approvals from the Rome Planning Board — but the project still has more reviews from other levels of government and is anticipated to be more than two years from opening.

The Planning Board Tuesday evening unanimously approved three actions needed:

A negative declaration of environmental impacts,

A plat (detailed map) review for subdividing the land on Atlas Drive; and

A site plan review of the distribution center.

No public comments were made, and no objections raised by board members or city staff.

The distribution center would hire about 225 people and add to the region’s growing logistics industry. A Family Dollar distribution center is on the eastern side of the business park, while Walmart and Tractor Supply have similar operations just north and east of Utica.

Orgill has applied for a $15 million incentive package with a payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILOT) plan affecting Rome, the Rome school district and Oneida County. Estimated to cost some $70 million, the project is eligible for up to $3.5 million in Empire State Development tax credits, according to the initial announcement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“We’re excited to have our site plan and our plat approved by this board, so we’re looking forward to getting started with this project,” Orgill chief financial officer Eric Divelbiss said afterward.

“We’re completing our environmental studies phase two. We’ll be looking to get temporary authorization to start site work just as soon as possible … Our current target date to open the facility is early 2022, January 2022, but if we can get a jump start here in the fall maybe we can accelerate that timeline.”

Orgill, with headquarters in greater Memphis, Tenn., serves supplies merchandise to independent building-supply and hardware retailers nationwide. Its nearest distribution center, in Inwood, West Virginia, is reaching capacity, and the company looked for a site to help serve the Northeast. 

As outlined for the Planning Board Tuesday, the center is planned for 1 Atlas Drive, which across Route 825 from the Wingate by Wyndham hotel. It would comprise 777,600 square feet, down from the 800,000 earlier announced because offices once planned for a separate building would be moved to the main structure. The site is on the southern side of Atlas Drive, on land that once was occupied by base housing when Griffiss was an Air Force base.

Trucks would enter off Route 825 and flow counterclock-wise, docking at some 20 bays to unload cargo. Trucks would be loaded with merchandise bound for customers on a similar number of docking bays on the northside. A traffic light to be installed at the Atlas-825 intersection would help facilitate the left turns off the site, and new landscaping will be put on an existing berm to the south of the site. Several homes are nearby in that direction.

Initially fewer than 50 trucks a day are expected but as the center ramps up operation, that could be 75 to 100, Orgill representatives have previously said.

Workers arrive before dawn and remain until the early evening. Trucks are staggered through the day, not in clusters, Divelbiss said.

“We call it a staggered start. We have employee that come in very early in the morning to get started to support the order pickers and shipping that’s gonna happen later in the day, and then finally inventory control comes in to complete the day.”

Orgill considered some 50 sites throughout the Northeast but settled on Atlas Drive for its size but also for a readily available workforce, Divelbiss said.

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