World Kitchen operations in Greencastle could move
The owner of the World Kitchen property asked Antrim Township for a tax break as a carrot to offer the company during lease negotiations. James Murray, vice president of the industrial portfolio of Matrix Development Group, spoke to supervisors July 24. He asked that they declare the property along South Antrim Way distressed so it would qualify for the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act, also known as LERTA. That would result in a lower real estate property tax rate on the improvements for up to 10 years. The current lease expires Jan. 31, 2013.
“We have been working incredibly hard for months,” said Murray. “They are on the hunt for a site along the I-81 corridor. This facility is old and functionally obsolete.”
He explained that Matrix, based in Cranberry, N.J., wanted to make improvements to the 1960 building with an updated sprinkler system, new roof and lighting, new exterior, energy efficient equipment, new HVAC and glass curtain walls. They would also add on 260,000 square feet for modern office space, with a separate entrance. The current facility contains one million square feet in five sections on 132 acres. The third part of the plan under LERTA would be to build a warehouse in the rear as a separate enterprise.
Supervisors Fred Young III, Rick Baer and John Alleman agreed to hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14. The hearing was required before LERTA could be adopted. Young wanted the Greencastle-Antrim School District to be involved in the discussion, since it would be affected most by any property tax rate. Because Antrim did not levy any mills, he also wanted the school board to set the schedule on any tax relief.
Antrim solicitor John Lisko said the hearing would be the occasion for Matrix to present its evidence that the site was in a deteriorated area.
“If LERTA is approved and we get the lease, we would start construction immediately,” said Murray. “There are millions and millions of dollars of investment here.”
World Kitchen, originally called Corning, has 2,800 employees in the United States and abroad. An assembly and consumer care center is in Greencastle and in 2010 employed 400 people.
Districts under consideration for tax exemption status by the municipal governing body must be judged by the following criteria: unsafe, unsanitary and overcrowded buildings; vacant, overgrown and unsightly lots of ground; a disproportionate number of tax delinquent properties; defective design or arrangement of building, street or lot layouts; economically and socially undesirable land uses; high incidence of persistent unemployment or underemployment; high incidence of dependence upon public assistance; high incidence of overcrowded, unsanitary or inadequate housing; high incidence of crime and delinquency; high incidence of rejection for selective service; high incidence of disease disability; high incidence of infant mortality; high incidence of school dropouts or other evidence of low educational attainment; other generally accepted indicators of widespread social problems or poverty conditions.
Eligible improvements include repair or construction to acquire higher standards of safety, health or economic use or compliance with regulations.
During citizen comment at the end of the meeting, Pat Coggins, vice president of development for Atapco, asked for the same LERTA concession. He wanted a tax break for Antrim Commons Business Park. Atapco has been putting infrastructure into place on its property between Commerce Drive and exit 3.
“A lot of categories can qualify. All developers are competing for projects along 81. I want to be on an even playing field in competing at this intersection. Maryland is throwing out a lot of money,” said Coggins.