PALMETTO -- FedEx is expanding its Palmetto ground delivery distribution center, a move that will add tens of thousands of square feet to the only building in the Port Manatee Industrial Park.
The expansion is part of the express delivery giant's $1.2 billion, 70-project distribution network expansion in the United States. The buildup is planned to help Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx keep up with demand in the online shopping industry. But the company is keeping things close to the vest on whether its Palmetto build-out will add jobs to the local economy or truck traffic to area roads.
But expansion plans hint at more jobs to come.
According to plans filed with Manatee County, the existing 123,000-square foot distribution warehouse at 11915 31st Terrace E. in Palmetto will grow by about 30 percent. Property devel
opment company Scannell Development of Indianapolis has applied for permits to build just over 52,000 square feet of additional warehouse, package processing and office space onto the existing facility. The original FedEx building was constructed in 2009.
The expansion at the 16.5-acre site will also include the addition of 220 parking slots for FedEx and employee vehicles. The facility occupies about a quarter of the total 65 acres in the industrial park.
FedEx spokesperson Jesse Bull said construction of the facility expansion is expected to be complete by September. The majority of the space will be used to process an expected higher volume of packages.
The processing facility employs more than 100 FedEx workers and dispatches about 100 delivery vehicles every day. Bull made no exact predictions about how the expansion would affect either employment or FedEx traffic using nearby Buckeye Road.
"We will add to the workforce as necessary to meet customer demands," Bull said. "Same for truck traffic."
FedEx operates both tractor trailer trucks and smaller delivery vans out of the facility. Those trucks service an area that extends from Riverview to Venice and the coastline to Zolfo Springs.
FedEx does not own the Palmetto distribution warehouse. It leases the facility from the property owner, Realty Income Properties of Escondido, Calif. According to its website, Realty Income Properties owns more than 4,200 properties throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
The FedEx addition will be one of a small number of new warehouse and industrial construction projects in Manatee County this year. University Park developer Benderson Development is currently building 110,000 square feet of light industrial space at its SRQ Commerce Park in the Whitfield area and has plans to build as much as 2 million square feet of similar inventory in Ellenton.
According to Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT statistics, warehouse industrial vacancy in Manatee County was at 7 percent in the final quarter of 2014, one of the lowest vacancy levels in the past five years. The county's total inventory of this type of real estate is 22.6 million square feet.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.