Annexation Could Boost Warehouse to 1M Square Feet

A 710,962-square-foot warehouse planned for property that was once part of the Lakeland Drag Strip could grow to more than 1 million square feet, as a result of City Commission action today. That would make it one of the five largest warehouses in Lakeland.

Commissioners approved a request to annex 9.56 acres next to the site of  Dragstrip Logistics Center, a warehouse being built on spec by Ackerman & Co. of Atlanta.

The Ackerman property is in city limits at 8100 State Road 33 N., and the owners of the newly annexed property to the east are seeking land-use changes that would allow a 300,000-square-foot addition to the warehouse.

The site is 1.3 miles northeast of the interchange of Interstate 4 and SR 33, an area that has become a hotbed of logistics activity. Neighbors include warehouses for Quaker Oats, PepsiCo, Havertys and HD Supply, according to Ackerman’s promotional material.

City staff is currently reviewing the site plan and other entities are reviewing transportation, environmental and other construction and impact issues.

Teresa Maio, community planning and housing manager,  said that the developer’s request for future land use designation and zoning designation on the site will come back before the City Commission in September. The land is currently owned by TFP of Polk County Inc. and Dorothy A. Bucci Revocable Trust.

Ashley Cheek, vice president of business development at the Lakeland Economic Development Council, said it is not unusual for developers to build huge warehouses on speculation to meet the needs of companies with immediate demand to move products.

As an example of successful spec construction, Cheek said that in 2016 Brennan Investment Group built a 605,412-square-foot structure on SR 33, just to the west of the project. In 2017, PepsiCo leased the space and uses it as a distribution center for Quaker Oats and Gatorade products.

The developers do not project employment figures, Cheek said; that comes when companies lease the space. But, based on employment figures for similar-sized warehouse, “We could be looking at 500 to 1,000 employees, although we have seen warehouses that size are less than that.” It depends on how the leasing company puts the space to use, she said.

A million-square-foot distribution center would expect to pay property taxes in the range of $1 million a year, which would go to support city, county, school and other local services, she said.

Thirty-four warehouse/distribution/logistics centers operate in the Lakeland area, ranging from 50,000 to Publix’ more than 3 million square feet in multiple locations, according to the LEDC.

The largest logistic centers in Lakeland, according to the LEDC list, are Saddle Creek Logistics (2.3 million square feet), Rooms to Go (also 2.3 million), Amazon (1,016,116), and Southern Wine (1,093,000).

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