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Aleppo industrial park takes vacancy hit with FedEx move

| Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

When FedEx Home Delivery vacated its 70,000-square-foot facility in 79 North Industrial and Research Park in Aleppo in August for a new Butler County location, the park's occupancy rate took a hit.

Local officials and the owner of the majority of the park's buildings, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, say they are making strides to increase that number.

According to Mateo Villa of CBRE Pittsburgh, a commercial real estate firm hired by Sun Life, changes in marketing strategy and capital investment in the park – including significant roofing, parking and landscaping projects – have attracted new businesses and garnered lease renewals and expansions from several key tenants.

“While the FedEx departure is a temporary setback, the building, with its excellent access to I-79, modern functionality and significantly above-average parking area, provides an excellent opportunity to attract a dynamic new addition to the park and the Aleppo Township community,” he said.

The park's occupancy rate peaked at 91.5 percent in the third quarter of 2017 prior to the FedEx departure and now stands at 81.5 percent.

The site boasts 11 buildings totaling 600,000 square feet. Seven of those buildings (approximately 400,000 square feet), are owned by Sun Life, with the remainder owned by individual companies and investors, Villa said.

Businesses range from wholesale building materials distributors and services companies to traditional warehouse and distribution users.

Aleppo leaders are paving the way for new businesses — both literally and figuratively.

The road to the park was recently paved with higher-strength materials that will help it withstand the wear and tear caused by heavy truck loads, said Matthew Doebler, president of Aleppo's board of commissioners.While occupancy rates do not affect the township's tax base (real estate taxes are paid by the property owner), Doebler says Aleppo does have a vested interest in filling the park so it can collect a business privilege tax.

Local officials considered putting in a bid to get Amazon's second corporate home in the spot left by FedEx, but decided that type of development was not in line with their vision of Aleppo's future, Doebler explained.

Kristy Locklin is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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