Antrim misses cut as site for Nordstrom facility

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Antrim Township was one of three finalists as Nordstrom looked for a warehouse site that would create 700 permanent jobs. Franklin County Area Development Corporation president Mike Ross learned Monday that the upscale fashion retailer chose West Donegal Township in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County. The other contender for the warehouse was Bethel Township in Fredericksburg, Lebanon County.

The other counties, townships and school districts enacted Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance districts, giving developers real estate tax breaks for 10 years.

Greencastle-Antrim School District, which levies 101.15 mills, and Antrim, which has no property tax, adopted LERTA in 2013. Franklin County commissioners David Keller, Bob Ziobrowski and Bob Thomas confirmed Oct. 10 at a special meeting that they would not endorse LERTA for their levied 25.65 mills. They cited the original intent of the plan, meant for redevelopment of existing properties, and the fact that Antrim's district covered almost every commercial property in the township. Atapco and FCADC had encouraged the measure as a bargaining tool.

Nordstrom had been looking at Antrim Commons Business Park at exit 3 of Interstate 81. Atapco's development was built on open space. The e-fulfillment center was predicted to bring in 700 fulltime jobs and 1,800 seasonal positions. Construction costs were projected at $100 million on 100 acres.

Ross, who courted Nordstrom alongside Atapco, was disappointed but not discouraged by the decision. He had seen a challenging situation if the deal went through.

"We had concerns about the labor component," he said. "It maybe would be too intense."

Because of Greencastle's proximity to West Virginia, it was possible there would not be enough people to fill all the positions. Macy's in Martinsburg was in an "incredible hiring mode," he said, "needing 1,200 full-time and 2,100 seasonal workers. Could we have met the demand (for Nordstrom)?"

In addition, Chambersburg and Shippensburg were attracting new distribution centers. A large company in Greencastle would draw its workforce from Hagerstown, Md. to Mechanicsburg, Ross said.

He called Atapco's Antrim Commons Business Park a great site and said other companies were doing "tire kicking" along the I-81 corridor, so another project would come along. He was satisfied FCADC had done everything it could to woo Nordstrom.