Public can weigh in on Orgill project

David Hill
Staff writer
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Posted 7/8/19

A public hearing has been scheduled for July 23 on a proposal by Tennessee-based Orgill Inc. to build a distribution center employing 225 people in Rome. The hearing is scheduled by the Oneida County …

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Public can weigh in on Orgill project

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A public hearing has been scheduled for July 23 on a proposal by Tennessee-based Orgill Inc. to build a distribution center employing 225 people in Rome.

The hearing is scheduled by the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency for 9 a.m. July 23 at the agency’s office, 584 Phoenix Drive in Rome.

Orgill distributes merchandise to independent retail hardware stores, home centers, lumber dealers and farm stores, and seeks a new distribution center to serve customers in several Northeastern states as its nearest distribution point, in Inwood, W.Va., nears capacity.

It has applied to the IDA for a transaction in which the agency will help it acquire approximately 74 acres at Atlas Drive in Griffiss Business and Technology Park across Wright Drive, also known as Route 825, from the Wingate by Wyndham hotel.

The distribution center would comprise about 790,000 square feet, slightly smaller than the 907,000-square-foot Family Dollar distribution center also in the business park. But it’s designed to be easily expandable up to 1 million square feet.

According to a public notice filed by the IDA, the agency owns the land on the former Air Force base and leases it to an entity known as Griffiss Local Development Corp. The IDA will either convey the facility to GLDC to be conveyed to the company and enter into a lease-leaseback transaction or will release GLDC from the lease agreement to enter a sale-leaseback with the company.

Orgill has applied for financial assistance in the form of exemptions from sales tax, mortgage recording and property tax abatement for 25 years during which time the company makes payments in lieu of taxes. The payments would be made to the city of Rome, Oneida County and the Rome school district, which must all agree to the deal.

In its application, Orgill estimated the value of the property tax abatements at $14.9 million, the mortgage tax exemption at $253,125 and the sales and use-tax exemption $4.2 million.

The project is also eligible for up to $3.5 million in Empire State Development tax credits.

Some of the payments received by the local governments may be spent on infrastructure improvements, particularly a traffic signal at the Atlas Road-Wright Drive intersection. Orgill representatives told the IDA board June 27 that when open, the center will draw approximately 50 trucks a day, and 75 to 100 if it’s expanded as expected to 1 million square feet. A traffic signal would help avoid loaded trucks lining up waiting to turn left.

The center will also need several other permits and agreements, including site plan approval and utilities connections from the city of Rome, and New York Department of Environmental Conservation approvals for stormwater discharges and chemical storage.

As for schedule, construction would ideally begin late this year but if it cannot start until spring, operations are still expected to start no later than January 2022, Michael Mullis of site selection consulting company J.M. Mullis told the IDA board. He noted, too, that Orgill preferred locations farther east and closer to most of its customers, but the Rome site is viable because of the availability and skill set of the local labor force.

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