Dermody Properties, the Nevada-based company whose sprawling LogistiCenter in Logan Township, Gloucester County, houses a one-million-square-foot Amazon warehouse, has purchased 88 acres at the former General Motors plant on Boxwood Road in Newport, Del., and is planning more giant warehouses there.
The site is six miles from the Pennsylvania state line, two miles from the I-95/I-295/I-495 junction, and four miles from the Port of Wilmington, Philadelphia’s rival for global traffic on the Delaware River.
Delaware officials are expanding the port and adding a former DuPont Co. plant site north of the city to existing facilities where the Christina River meets the Delaware to handle increased cargoes.
The GM property was purchased from Delaware developer Harvey Hanna & Associates, which leveled the former GM complex after buying the entire 142-acre site last year. Hanna told county officials it could host more than 3 million square feet of warehouse space.
Dermody posted a site plan for proposed buildings totaling 1.75 million square feet, about the size of the two Comcast or Liberty Place towers in Philadelphia, earlier this fall. But the company is prepared to expand the footprint, according to local government and real estate sources.
Hanna plans to keep 54 acres and build a third, smaller building on its part of the property. Sale terms haven’t been disclosed.
The GM complex, which closed 50 years after its conversion from military manufacturing in 1948, was proposed in 2009 as a federal- and state-subsidized Fisker electric-car factory. But California-based Fisker later declared bankruptcy and was purchased with its battery supplier by a Chinese manufacturer.
Amazon and its rivals including Walmart’s Jet.com and King of Prussia-based Radial have built numerous warehouses in eastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware — including Amazon’s first East Coast site, in New Castle, Del. But they have generally avoided the city of Philadelphia despite its location at the hub of regional transportation and population.
While some Amazon warehouses employ thousands of workers — and thousands more temporary workers in the run-up to the Christmas shopping season — other logistics centers have become highly automated, as shippers deploy more sophisticated robotics. The centers attract truck traffic, while operators such as UPS are experimenting with airborne drone deliveries.