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World Kitchen will stay in Greencastle

November 30, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — World Kitchen will stay in Greencastle for at least the next 10 years, according to an official with the company that owns the property along U.S. 11 that houses the kitchenware provider.

James R. Murray, vice president of Matrix Development Group in New Jersey, said World Kitchen, which has about 400 employees, will continue to occupy the facility as it undergoes more than $10 million in improvements.

“The fact they are staying speaks volumes about the location and the labor force,” Murray said in a phone interview Friday. “It’s a great spot to be for mid-Atlantic distribution centers, so I think retaining them is definitely a driver for the local economy.”

Antrim Township officials and others credit a tax incentive program for enticing the company to stay put.

With World Kitchen’s lease expiring at the end of the year, the township unanimously approved creating a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistant (LERTA) program that it hoped would be a shot in the arm for the Greencastle-Antrim business community.

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The program provides incentives for owners of eligible commercial properties to make improvements by easing the usual burden of increased taxes that come with an improved property and higher tax assessment.

“I feel that is a very major reason that they are here,” said Fred Young III, chairman of the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors.

He said World Kitchen was entertaining offers from Maryland, West Virginia and other locations that would have offered more modern, updated facilities.

“The LERTA was initiated for two reasons — to attract businesses at Exit 3, but the reason we did it so quickly was for an incentive for World Kitchen to remain here as a presence and to retain their work force, as well as to continue to contribute to our commercial and real estate property tax base,” Young said.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District also approved the LERTA zone.

“We’re very happy World Kitchen has decided to stay due to jobs, and the company will increase our commercial tax base,” Greencastle-Antrim School District superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said.

Renovations to the 1 million-square-foot distribution facility at 1200 S. Antrim Way will include 20,000 square feet of new corporate office space, replacement of HVAC throughout the facility, a new sprinkler system, new roofing, additional truck docks and a new building envelope consisting of pre-cast concrete and metal panels.

The company will pay 10 percent in taxes the first year and add 10 percent each year until reaching the full amount in 10 years, Hoover said.

“The more commercial growth, the more it takes the burden off the household taxpayer,” Hoover said.

The bulk of the taxes are paid to the school district.

“For the Greencastle-Antrim School District, if real estate taxes are our major source of income, then commercial development is not just a wish but a necessity. We hope that other interested parties will see that we are encouraging economic growth by partnering with the township in developing tax incentives through a LERTA,” he said.

Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said, “This project is an example of what can be accomplished when government entities collaborate with a mutual goal and purpose in response to business needs that become apparent.”

Franklin County Commissioners did not support the LERTA initiative, saying its scope was too broad.

Commissioners chairman David Keller stands by his decision not to create a LERTA zone in the county.

“We felt that the original intent of LERTA was for redevelopment and not the development of green fields,” he said. “If the LERTA had just been focused on projects like World Kitchen and other similar projects, where the buildings were deteriorated or blighted, then we would have been on board.”

But he is excited that World Kitchen will remain in Greencastle.

“I think it’s fantastic. It’s a huge building that’s going to be renovated and expanded. It’s going to keep that property as a viable property and the tax base will be a source of employment for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s great that the business is staying in Franklin County. It’s great that the building is going to be updated and will be there for the foreseeable future.”

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