Hardware chain to more than double existing distribution center capacity with new Blue Steel development.
Ace Hardware Corp. will nearly double its existing distribution footprint when it relocates a long-time Tampa logistics center to Plant City in November of next year.
Construction on the planned 715,000-square-foot fulfillment center, which is being developed by a group led by Blue Steel Development, is expected to begin in October.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based retailer says the expansion will create 40 new jobs. Ace Hardware’s current east Tampa retail support facility, which the nearly 100-year-old company has operated since 1977, provides merchandise to more than 200 Florida stores.
“We expect it will be much better for all of us,” says Jim Ackroyd, CEO of Vision Ace Hardware Stores, one of the hardware chain’s largest franchisees in Southwest Florida.
“The new center will meet 100% of all of our needs,” Ackroyd adds. “It will be a huge benefit for our customers to be able to get things more quickly. We’re thrilled.”
Lori Bossmann, and Ace Hardware executive vice president and its chief supply chain officer, says the new project stems from the company’s growth in sales in Florida. In all, Ace Hardware operates more than 5,300 stores in 70 countries.
In Plant City, Ace Hardware’s project will be developed on roughly 100 acres and be part of a 407-acre logistics site.
“The new center will have increased functionality and contain more cubic volume, so Ace Hardware will be able to store more products,” says Ryan Vaught, an executive managing director of industrial logistics and transportation solutions at commercial real estate brokerage firm Colliers International, in Tampa.
“It’ll be a cross-dock facility so it’ll have better engineering and design for distribution, have increased truck parking, easier access to highways and it’ll be air conditioned so it’ll be a huge improvement from a labor retention and attraction standpoint,” Vaught adds.
“It’s a major step up for them and great for the market.”
Ace Hardware’s plans in the Interstate 4 Corridor — an area between Tampa and Orlando that can access some 20 million consumers within a day’s drive — come on the heels of those by Refresco Beverages US Inc., Home Depot and Amazon.
In April, the beverage maker signed a lease for a 364,082-square-foot warehouse in east Tampa.
The Atlanta-based home improvement and hardware chain, meanwhile, is planning a 780,000-square-foot industrial building, also in Plant City, while the online retail behemoth has filed plans to develop a pair of new fulfillment facilities.
In Seffner, north of Brandon and east of Tampa, Amazon is planning a new 424,000-square-foot industrial building in the Interstate 4 Logistics Center. In Temple Terrace, which also is northeast of Tampa, the company intends to construct a four-story distribution operation containing about 750,000 square feet.
Amazon currently operates a pair of distribution facilities in excess of 1 million square feet in Lakeland and Ruskin, leases more than 100,000 square feet in Fort Myers and is developing a 120,000-square-foot fulfillment center in North Port, in Sarasota County.
“The bigger users of industrial space have not taken a breath because of the pandemic in terms of leasing and development activity,” Vaught says.