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- 2012 - December - 6th -

Carter: Publix considering dairy plant at new Westside site

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

In one of the larger area property sales of the year, Publix Super Markets Inc. bought 57 acres in November next to its Westside distribution center, but hasn't announced what it plans to do with it.

City Council member Doyle Carter told the Daily Record the property might be under consideration by Lakeland-based Publix for a dairy-products production facility.

"Anything that brings jobs, I'm excited about," he told Daily Record reporter David Chapman.

Carter didn't have specifics about the possible project, including the number of jobs, size of the project, capital investment, timeframe or certainty of the decision.

Publix.com reports its three existing dairy plants employ a total of more than 600 people, indicating an average of 200 each. Those plants are in Lakeland and Deerfield Beach in Florida and in Lawrenceville, Ga.

They process a total of 100 million gallons of fresh milk a year and also produce ice cream, bottled water, iced teas, fruit drinks and juices, cultured products and carbonated beverages.

Carter told Chapman a Publix representative visited him about six months ago at City Hall and asked about closing private roads to assist the project. No incentives were requested.

"We purchased this property adjacent to our Beaver Street warehouse facilities for future opportunities with no immediate plans for use. As we continue to grow and expand, there may be opportunities to use this property in the future for a specific purpose to support warehousing and the product supply chain," Publix Media and Community Relations Manager Dwaine Stevens said this morning.

In Jacksonville, Publix already operates what it calls a high-velocity warehouse, a dairy/boxed meat warehouse, a produce warehouse and a frozen-food warehouse, according to publix.com.

Meanwhile, the previous property owner is transferring existing permits on the undeveloped site.

Property seller R&L Carriers Inc. sent a "notice of partial permit transfer" for the "Beaver Street Project" in a letter dated Nov. 21 to the St. Johns River Water Manahgement District.

In a sale recorded Nov. 19, Lakeland-based Publix paid $3.07 million for vacant property at 10319 General Ave. It bought the land from R.L.R. Investments LLC of Wilmington, Ohio. R.L.R. is an affiliate of R&L Carriers, also based in Wilmington.

In the letter to the water management district, R&L Carriers said it still retains its interest in the permit as it relates to remaining lands subject to the permit.

R&L Carriers, a trucking company, operates a distribution warehouse, service garage and a guard house on its remaining property there.

R&L Carriers states it owned 95.85 acres there. It applied to modify its permitted system because of a sanitary sewer easement along the southern border of the property. There were no documents that seem to suggest Publix's plans for the site.

Property records show the 56.57-acre property purchased by Publix comprises about 50 acres for light industrial use and the remainder is a retention pond and swamp. The land was valued at $2.17 million for tax purposes for 2012.

Records show Publix already owns almost 90 acres at 9786 and 9800 W. Beaver St. for its distribution center and refrigerated warehouse operations. For 2012, the properties carried a combined taxable value of $30.8 million.

Duval County Property Appraiser records show at 9786 W. Beaver St., Publix has 10 buildings, including a mega-warehouse. At 9800 W. Beaver St., it has four buildings of refrigerated, cold-storage and distribution warehouse use.

Publix was founded in 1930 in Winter Haven and is the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the U.S., according to its website, publix.com.

It said it is one of the 10 largest-volume supermarket chains in the United States and posted $27 billion in retail sales in 2011. It has more than 154,500 employees.

Publix has 1,066 locations in the five states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee and is expanding into North Carolina.

Its largest market is Florida, with 755 stores, followed by Georgia, at 180. There are 51 Publix stores in Alabama, 47 in South Carolina and 33 in Tennessee.

There are 49 in the Jacksonville area, comprising 29 in Duval County, 12 in St. Johns County, six in Clay County and 2 in Nassau County.

To serve those stores, Publix operates eight distribution centers, with seven in Florida and one in Lawrenceville, Ga.

The Florida distribution centers are in Jacksonville, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach, Lakeland, Miami, Orlando and Sarasota.

It also has five manufacturing facilities in Florida and Georgia.

In September, Publix announced a move into North Carolina. It said it signed a lease for a store in the Charlotte area in Ballantyne. The store will be part of a new division based in Charlotte and the store opening is tentatively planned for early 2014.

Publix.com outlined its "team structure."

Manufacturing consists of 12 facilities: four fresh foods operations, three dairy plants, two bakery plants, the deli kitchen, printing services, manufacturing/supply purchasing, and corporate manufacturing.

In addition to the dairy plants in Lakeland, Deerfield Beach and Lawrenceville, Publix reported:

• The fresh foods operations are in Jacksonville, Lakeland, Deerfield Beach and Lawrenceville. They pack fruits and vegetables in packages for customers. The fresh foods facilities produce about 80 million packages of product annually. They employ a total of more than 250 associates.

• The bakery plants are in Lakeland and Atlanta. The Lakeland plant opened in 1972 with 27 associates and now employs more than 400. The facility is about 225,000 square feet in size. Production lines include dry mix, frozen sweet goods, frozen rolls, frozen wire-cut cookies, icings, and fruit fillings. Ready to serve baked products — muffins, crème cakes, cornbread and cupcakes — are processed there, too. The Atlanta bakery plant opened in 2004. The 115,000-square-foot facility employs more than 100 people. It produces frozen pies and rolls that are ready to be baked in the stores.

• The deli kitchen in Lakeland produces fully prepared meats and salads. The more than 200,000-square-foot facility employs more than 400 people.

• Printing services handles more than 182,000 orders each year, including requests to print forms, labels, signs and newsletters. It also produces electronic files for Publix's weekly newspaper ads, engraves name badges for retail associates and handles corporate photography needs.

• The manufacturing/supply purchasing department supports the manufacturing plants, retail associates and distribution centers. It also supports the corporate purchasing team.

• The corporate manufacturing team supports the information technology, industrial engineering, accounting, maintenance engineering, logistics planning and human resource functions in manufacturing.

In October, the Daily Record reported the September edition of the Shelby Report of the Southeast ranked Publix as the No. 2 Southeast retailer with 1,053 stores and average total weekly sales of $418 million. The rankings were by store count.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was the top retailer in the Southeast by store count, with 1,100 Supercenters generating total average weekly sales of $1.56 billion.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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