Thursday, June 19, 2014

City trying to lure Dietz & Watson to arsenal site

By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia officials are assembling property at the former Frankford Arsenal site in Northeast Philadelphia for use by cold-cuts-makerDietz & WatsonInc. as a new warehouse and trucking center. 

The new facility would replace the 260,000-square-foot facility in Delanco, Burlington County that burned down in 2013. That seven-year-old warehouse employed 130 people.

A new warehouse on the proposed property would be convenient to Dietz & Watson's nearby headquarters on Tacony Street - and a coup for the city at the expense of New Jersey, which has been offering buckets of cash to employers in an attempt to lure them from Pennsylvania or stop them from moving away.

Real estate and city sources confirmed Dietz & Watson is the focus of city ordinances introduced in April that would swap city and state property tracts to make way for an unnamed industrial user on land near the Delaware River south of Dietz & Watson's offices and deli-meat production plant.

The ordinances are scheduled for a City Council vote as soon as Thursday. They were introduced with backing from Councilman Bobby Henon, a union electrician who has made restoring industrial jobs in old factory neighborhoods along the Delaware one of his priorities.

Henon also supports rezoning the former Philadelphia Coke Co. property, which had been targeted for riverside residences that were never built, to attract industrial employers.

I'm told by a person familiar with proposals for that site that a computer-recycling company has expressed interest. City planners have supported proposals to return both the Coke and Arsenal sites to industrial use.

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