Business

Crate & Barrel plans to expand, go green

Crate & Barrel plans to double its space in Lincoln County Industrial Park with a 400,000-square-foot “green” distribution center.

Officials of the furniture and home products chain said Thursday that they expect to open the building – which can be expanded to 800,000 square feet – in June 2009, creating 70 new jobs initially.

John Ling, vice president of supply chain management and logistics, anticipates the jobs total will reach 220 as the facility expands to support store openings and internal growth.

The center off U.S. 321 will be built to standards aimed at earning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, officials said.

Crate & Barrel opened a 210,467-square-foot distribution center at Lincoln County Industrial Park in summer 2005 and expanded its space there about a year later to 382,668 square feet.

The Northbrook, Ill., company has 160 stores in 25 markets nationwide, including one at SouthPark in Charlotte.

Lincoln County commissioners approved cash grants of $102,014 a year over five years as an incentive for the current $23.5 million expansion project.

The 550-acre industrial park, spearheaded by the Lincoln Economic Development Association, has been one of the state's most successful in attracting investment over the past few years.

Lincoln economic development officials say they do it by focusing on the park's niche – companies interested in large buildings with excellent highway access. The park is within 15 minutes of Interstates 85 and 40, and only 35 minutes from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

Crate & Barrel's Ling cited that access and the park's “proximity to many of our important suppliers” in the company's decision to locate its distribution operations there three years ago.

The Keith Corp. of Charlotte, the industrial park's development consultant, is developing the new center. Choate Construction is the general contractor, and Merriman Schmitt Architects Inc. is the architect.

The eco-friendly distribution building will be the first of its kind in the park and in Lincoln County.

Also, said The Keith Corp.'s Alan Lewis, “This could be the first build-to-suit LEED certified distribution center in the state of North Carolina.”

Doug Smith: 704-358-5174; dougsmith@charlotteobserver.com

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