Construction of a state-of-the-art logistics center is expected to begin this month in Ontelaunee Township, Berks County.
Crow Holdings Industrial, the industrial development company of Dallas-based Crow Holdings, purchased a 60-acre property in November from the Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF), the economic development arm of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA). Johanna Chervak, vice president of Crow Holdings, declined on Friday to reveal the sale price.
GBDF acquired the property in 2019 and worked with Ontelaunee Township municipal officials to rezone the site for industrial use. Dan Langdon, GBDF chairman, said he is pleased that Crow will play a role in the economic growth of Berks County.
The company plans to develop a 652,080-square-foot logistics property that will feature a 40-foot clear height, 182 trailer parking stalls, 124 loading docks, four drive-in doors and 484 spaces for car parking. The center will be located less than a quarter of a mile off Route 61 near Route 73, also known as Lake Shore Drive.
Leasing for the property is under the direction of a team led by Jeff Lockard, senior managing director within the Northeast Industrial Region for JLL, an international commercial real estate and property investment company.
The number of warehouses in the Lehigh Valley exploded during the past decade, and warehouse development spread from there into Berks County. The areas are valued because of relatively cheap land, available labor and proximity to major trucking routes.
Chervak said an available labor pool was an important factor in Crow’s choice of location, and that the project will create local job opportunities for those in the Reading area who currently commute to the Lehigh Valley for work.
“In Berks County, and Reading in particular, you have some of the labor pool that’s commuting into the Lehigh Valley,” Chervak said. “Reading is a community that can benefit from additional job opportunities.”
Warehouse development has generated concern among some residents in Berks and surrounding counties. Recently, in Maxatawny Township, a group of residents battled developers to save a historic cemetery located on property on which Duke Realty plans to build a 300-acre logistics center, including two 1-million-square-foot warehouses.
The group reached a deal with Duke, which said it will both preserve and improve the cemetery. The remains of a Revolutionary War captain and numerous early Berks County residents are interred there.
Chervak said she recognized the potential for opposition to the Crow project, but was not anticipating problems, as Crow and the GBDF worked with township officials to have the land rezoned for industrial use and plan for the project.
“It’s always a concern how receptive a community may or may not be, but the GBDF has worked with the township to drive development to that area,” Chervak said.
She referred to Ontelanunee Township as “a municipality that recognizes the economic value of logistics development.”
Ontelaunee Township officials released a statement Friday saying, “The Township is excited to have Crow Holdings develop this land. With the proximity to major thoroughfares such as Route 61, 222, and I-78, this property is a great location for the facility. We are excited for the economic growth to our township with the possibility for more than 200 jobs.”
Crow launched its Northeast operations in 2018 as part of its national expansion plan. Since then, it has created more than 11 million square feet of industrial space in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is its first venture in Berks County.
Since 2000, Crow Holdings operating companies have developed or acquired more than 170 industrial properties, with 54 currently in development, across the United States. Its holdings represent more than 115 million-square-feet of industrial space.