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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 3, 201612:00 PM EST

BMW to invest $30M in new facility at Westside Industrial Park


BMW of North America LLC said Wednesday it will invest more than $30 million to build a 450,000-square-foot Regional Distribution Center in Westside Industrial Park to replace a smaller parts facility there.

Kenn Sparks, head of U.S. corporate communications for the German carmaker, said Wednesday that BMW plans to occupy the site in April 2017.

It is expected to be fully operational in October 2017.

The structure will be developed at 600 Imeson Road. The existing facility for the Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based company along Westside Industrial Drive is 210,000 square feet, he said.

“They are a highly prized company and this decision further enhances our auto distribution sector,” said Jerry Mallot, president of the JAXUSA Partnership economic development division of the JAX Chamber.

Distribution and logistics fit within the area’s six targeted industries. In 2015, the JAXUSA Partnership announced four logistics projects, behind the five in advanced manufacturing and tied with four in financial services.

There also were announcements in the other targeted industries of information technology, professional services, and health and life sciences.

In January, Sparks said Jacksonville was a major center for BMW Group and had been for many years, “especially as it serves our growing business in the Southeast.”

Sparks was responding then to questions whether BMW was the unidentified Project X, which was described as a 450,000-square-foot distribution center, expanding to 600,000 square feet.

That project had been courted by Hillwood Investment Properties for the AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center industrial park in West Jacksonville.

Hillwood told the city in late December the prospect had chosen another Jacksonville site, but as of Sept. 30 had not made an announcement.

BMW of North America LLC fit the parameters.

The existing BMW center was built in 2002 at 137,000 square feet and expanded in 2008. Records show the expansion was to 213,000 square feet.

The center was built to support the BMW and MINI dealerships in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina.

When BMW came to Jacksonville, City Council approved two grants totaling $575,000. The center said it would hire up to 50 people.

However, the 213,000-square-foot center is smaller than five other BMW regional distribution centers. The expandable Project X closely aligns with those larger centers.

Westside Industrial Park has been preparing for more development.

Owners of the 960-acre center, through Imeson Industrial Park Land LLC, bought 115 acres adjacent to it along Imeson Road in November.

Of that, about 80 acres can be developed. Three or four buildings totaling up to 1.3 million square feet of space are planned.

It’s unclear whether incentives will be sought for the new BMW regional parts center.

No legislation has been filed with the city for a deal called Project X, BMW or other projects fitting the description.

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