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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Feb. 27, 201312:00 PM EST

FedEx Ground Package System considering Jacksonville project: Speculation centers on Cecil Commerce Center


A FedEx Corp. spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that FedEx Ground Package System Inc. is considering a project in Jacksonville, but did not confirm the details circulating among those who are hearing about the search.

"I can confirm FedEx Ground is looking into something in the Jacksonville area, but nothing is confirmed," said Jesse Bull, FedEx communications coordinator.

"We're still in the preliminary phase," he said. "We don't have further details."

FedEx is based in Memphis and FedEx Ground is based in Pittsburgh.

Several sources say FedEx is looking at Jacksonville for a potential 500,000-square-foot logistics operation at Cecil Commerce Center in West Jacksonville.

AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center is a former Naval Air Station owned by the City and being developed by Dallas-based Hillwood, A Perot Company.

Hillwood contact Dan Tatsch did not respond to messages left late Tuesday on his office and mobile phones or to an email.

Aleizha Batson, City deputy director of communications, said Tuesday it was premature to comment.

"The administration is pursuing job creation and will continue to," Batson said. "If there's a deal that's going to happen, we will announce it," she said.

City Council member Doyle Carter would not comment about FedEx, although he said he was aware of a logistics company that wanted to build a distribution center at Cecil Commerce Center and was negotiating with Hillwood.

He said he hoped a deal could be completed in a couple of weeks. He said a third-party company was negotiating with Hillwood on behalf of the prospect and he did not know how many jobs were involved.

Carter said it would be another gain for Cecil Commerce Center, which is the site for the Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC distribution center and the Saft America Inc. battery plant, among other companies.

"There's a lot of movement out there," he said.

A Cecil Commerce Center site would help FedEx qualify for economic incentives.

The property, south of Interstate 10 and on both sides of Normandy Boulevard and 103rd Street, is an Enterprise Zone that provides for tax credits and tax refunds as well as a Qualified Target Industry Enterprise Zone Bonus.

Hillwood reports that more than 50 million consumers live within one-day truck transit of the site, which has an interchange at I-10 and is near I-95 and I-75, which provides direct access to the Southeast U.S. and beyond.

Hillwood explains that in 2009, it won a competitive bid to become the master developer of the 4,474-acre Cecil Commerce Center, which is a portion of the former BRAC-closed Naval Air Station Cecil Field owned by the City of Jacksonville.

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority operates the airport portion as JAA Cecil Airport.

While speculation centers on Cecil Commerce Center, sources also cautioned that until a deal is signed for FedEx at the property, "they're not there."

The Dallas-based Fischer & Co. corporate real estate consulting and brokerage firm lists FedEx as a client.

Fischer & Co. says on its website that its services include portfolio management, strategic planning, acquisitions, dispositions, transaction and construction management, capital markets and sale-leasebacks.

In 2000, Fischer & Co. helped FedEx Ground choose Winston-Salem, N.C., for a package distribution center.

A news release on the Fischer site said FedEx Ground contracted with Regional Development Group Inc., an Orlando-based real estate developer, to build the 115,000-square-foot facility on a site in Union Cross Business Park.

Regional Development Group bought a 17.6-acre site in Union Cross Business Park to build the center to replace a 30,000-square-foot facility in Greensboro, N.C.

The new facility was estimated to generate 208 jobs including office personnel, package handlers and truck drivers.

Fischer representatives did not respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.

According to its annual Securities and Exchange Commission filing, FedEx Corp. described its four business segments:

• FedEx Express. Federal Express Corp. is the world's largest express transportation company, offering time-certain delivery within one to three business days and serving markets that comprise more than 90 percent of the world's gross domestic product. The FedEx Express segment also includes FedEx Trade Networks Inc., which provides international trade services, specializing in customs brokerage and global ocean and air freight forwarding, and FedEx SupplyChain Systems Inc., which offers a range of supply chain solutions.

• FedEx Ground. FedEx Ground Package System Inc. is a leading North American provider of small-package ground delivery services. FedEx Ground provides low-cost, day-certain service to every business address in the United States and Canada, as well as residential delivery to nearly all U.S. residences through its FedEx Home Delivery service. The FedEx Ground segment also includes FedEx SmartPost Inc., which specializes in the consolidation and delivery of high volumes of low-weight, less time-sensitive business-to-consumer packages using the U.S. Postal Service for final delivery to any residential address or P.O. Box in the United States.

• FedEx Freight. FedEx Freight Inc. is a North American provider of less-than-truckload freight services, offering FedEx Freight Priority and FedEx Freight Economy.

• FedEx Services. FedEx Corporate Services Inc. provides other FedEx companies with sales, marketing, information technology, communications and back-office support.

The SEC report said FedEx Ground operates a multiple hub-and-spoke sorting and distribution system consisting of 525 facilities, including 33 hubs, in the U.S. and Canada.

It conducts its operations primarily with 30,770 owner-operated vehicles and about 35,000 company-owned trailers. FedEx Home Delivery's operations are often co-located with existing FedEx Ground facilities.

It said advanced automated sorting technology is used to streamline the handling of millions of packages daily.

"Using overhead laser and six-sided camera-based bar code scan technology, hub conveyors electronically guide packages to their appropriate destination chute, where they are loaded for transport to their respective destination terminals for local delivery," says the filing.

As of May 31, FedEx Ground had about 50,500 employees. In addition, it said FedEx Ground relies on owner-operators to conduct its line-haul and pickup-and-delivery operations.

David Rebholz is the president and CEO of FedEx Ground. Its primary competitors are UPS and the U.S. Postal Service.

Duval County property records show FedEx owns or leases warehouse, transportation and shipping sites around Jacksonville.

Among them is a 28.12-acre site owned by FedEx Ground Package System Inc. at 2480 Lane Ave. N. in West Jacksonville.

Other FedEx sites include a 13.43-acre site owned by FedEx National LTL Inc. at 6611 Pickett Drive in Northwest Jacksonville and a 10-acre World Service Center shipping location in Southside at 3736 Salisbury Road owned by Monmouth Real Estate Investment Corp.

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