Site of new warehouse for port cargoes

Brian Preski, Esq., Chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA), is pleased to announce that PRPA recently concluded an agreement to acquire over 15 acres of waterfront property in the heart of Philadelphia’s port industrial district, property that will immediately be utilized for the construction of a new waterfront warehouse.

PRPA purchased the 15.59-acre parcel, encompassing land and water rights, from the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) for $3.9 million. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided funding for the purchase. PRPA is an independent agency of the Commonwealth.

“Several years ago, PRPA didn’t stand in the way of Walmart and other retail establishments that wanted a presence along the Delaware River,” said Chairman Preski. “We permitted those projects with the understanding that other significant waterfront lands would be put aside for maritime industrial use. The 15-plus acre facility we just acquired was part of that earlier agreement. DRPA acquired and banked the land on the Port of Philadelphia’s behalf at the time, and recently PRPA completed the final purchase of the land from DRPA. We now look forward to immediately developing this significant acreage to service the Port’s labor-intensive cargoes.”

The acreage in question, titled the “Pier 74 property” (though an actual pier hasn’t existed there in decades), is located along the Delaware River immediately south of the intersection of Delaware and Snyder Avenues. The Pier 74 property sits next to PRPA’s Forest Products Distribution Center at Piers 78/80. In mid-November, groundbreaking will commence on the property for a state-of-the-art, 200,000 square-foot warehouse specially designed for handling the Port’s growing forest products cargoes, specifically rolls of high-quality coated paper from Scandinavia, as well as rolls of newsprint. The new Pier 74 warehouse, which will cost approximately $12,000,000, will become part of PRPA’s Forest Products Distribution Center.

The Forest Products Distribution Center is operated by Penn Warehousing & Distribution Company, Inc., which has imported paper and forest products into the Port of Philadelphia for almost 30 years.

“This is an exciting time for the Port of Philadelphia and for the Delaware River,” said PRPA Executive Director James T. McDermott, Jr. “Agreements such as this one demonstrate a growing realization of the importance of maritime industrial activity among our governmental and civic leaders. This current agreement, which gives us land to construct what will be one of the largest warehouses ever built by PRPA in South Philadelphia, will allow us to service better than ever before the many shipping companies that regularly deliver forest products to the Port of Philadelphia. Forest Products are labor-intensive cargoes that deliver a big boost to our regional economy, and this new warehouse will allow us to handle more of these cargoes, and more efficiently. Just as importantly, the new, expanded facility will go a long way in helping us continue our mission to protect and increase the number of quality, family-sustaining jobs on the working waterfront.”

Both Teamsters and ILA longshoremen are employed at the Forest Products Distribution Center. The ILA is responsible for discharging cargo from forest products vessels and the Teamsters handle the cargo once it is inside the facility’s warehouses. Last year, close to 800,000 metric tons of forest products were handled at the forest products center, an amount expected to be surpassed by 2005 final cargo figures. With the completion of the new warehouse in early 2007, annual cargo levels at the facility are expected to jump to well beyond one million metric tons annually.

“We want to thank PRPA and the Rendell administration for their constant support of this initiative,” said John Brown, Jr., President of Penn Warehousing & Distribution Company, Inc. “The port was diligent through the often complicated process of acquiring the land from DRPA and the