Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Incentives Are Detailed for BJ's Site

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Incentives Are Detailed for BJ's Site

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis, Times-Union senior business writer

Florida developer Casto Southeast Inc. proposes to build an estimated $29 million Westside distribution center for BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. and has negotiated a $3.3 million city and state assistance package for road improvements to ease the way.

The Jacksonville Economic Development Commission is expected to consider the Casto package when it meets at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. That meeting is open to the public.

"We are excited about having BJ's come to town, and we'll be happy to have that happen -- and also this is a prudent use of incentive dollars," said commission executive director Kirk Wendland, explaining that the assistance comprises public infrastructure improvements.

We first reported BJ's interest in a potential Northeast Florida distribution center in February, and negotiations have been taking place. The commission released a draft project summary yesterday that shows BJ's intends to create about 200 full-time jobs at an average hourly wage of $10 to $12, excluding benefits.

As we've reported, the project is planned on 150 acres along Pritchard Road in the Westlake Industrial Park, west of Interstate 295. It would serve as a Southeastern distribution center for Natick, Mass.-based BJ's, a chain of membership wholesale clubs that operates in the Eastern United States.

According to the summary, the $3.3 million would be used to widen Pritchard Road between Jones Road and the project site, build an access road from Pritchard Road to the site, and provide signals at Pritchard and Jones roads and at Pritchard Road and the project's access road.

To fund the improvements, Casto has negotiated a $1.3 million city loan and a $2 million state Economic Development Transportation Fund Grant. In addition, Casto would contribute $600,000 to the projects. …

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