J.C. Penney to shutter Lakeland warehouse

By: 
Mar. 31, 2017

As part of its plan to whittle down its portfolio of stores nationwide, department store operator J.C. Penney Co. also plans to vacate a Lakeland distribution center it has occupied for more than 25 years.

The Plano, Texas-based retailer says supply chain operations will be shifted from 6800 State Road 33 N., in Lakeland, to Atlanta by the end of June.

Joey Thomas, a J.C. Penney spokesman, says Atlanta will be one of 13 remaining U.S. supply chain centers operated by the company going forward.

Earlier this month J.C. Penney announced plans to close 138 additional stores — or about 14% of its store count -- to boost profitability. Only two stores in Florida, in Jacksonville and Palatka, will be affected by the downsizing, the company says.

The 360,000-square-foot Lakeland distribution center has been owned since December 2015 by Philadelphia-based Exeter Property Group. Exeter bought the property for $23.4 million, according to Polk County property records.

In addition to the J.C. Penney-occupied building, Exeter also owns industrial real estate in Tampa, Orlando and Lake Mary. Last fall, the company acquired a 374,850-square-foot property occupied by Amazon.com in Davenport, also in Polk County, for $24.6 million, records show.

In all, Exeter's portfolio is valued at more than $3.5 billion nationwide.

“This building is as close to Interstate 4 as one can get to Interstate 4 without being on Interstate 4 itself,” says Todd Dantzler, a principal in the commercial real estate brokerage firm CBC Saunders Ralston Dantzler Realty, in Lakeland.

“Big-box distribution centers are now being built spec near the interstate, so that tells us that the people in the distribution business are bullish on these locations.”

Even so, Dantzler adds that it's been roughly a decade since an industrial building of the size of Exeter's that wasn't a build-to-suit project came on the market for lease.