WILMINGTON – Besides the jobs and economic benefits, Wilmington Mayor J. Martin Orr sees an added perk for having a 1.7 million-square-foot distribution center at Interstate 55 and Lorenzo Road.
“Wilmington is on Route 66 and we’re known for being the home of the Gemini Giant, our giant spaceman,” Orr said during ground-breaking ceremonies Wednesday at RidgePort Logistics Center. “Now we’re going to be home of the Michelin Man, too.”
The French tire manufacturer plans to lease the facility, which will be located at the western terminus of the proposed Illiana Expressway and be accessible through Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway’s transcontinental mainline.
Construction of the center, which will be made up of three buildings described as covering roughly the area of 30 football fields, is expected to be completed by mid-2015.
Orr said construction is expected to create more than 200 jobs, followed by another 200 to 300 permanent jobs at the Michelin distribution center. Orr said he expected the permanent jobs to be in the $15-per-hour range given the economic incentives that Wilmington provided.
Jim Martell, chief executive officer of Ridge Development Corp., said the company began developing RidgePort in 2005. The property was annexed by Wilmington in 2010, and marketing began in earnest in 2012.
The location was ideal, Martell said, as was the area’s reputation.
“Will County is on the map around the world,” Martell said, noting the success of the BNSF Logistics Park-Chicago in Elwood and the Union Pacific-Joliet Intermodal Terminal in Joliet. “Everyone points to Will County as a tremendous model.”
Michelin will be the center’s second tenant. The first, McKay TransCold, recently leased a 60,000-square-foot building on the west end of the park in May. The company provides a hub-to-hub refrigerated boxcar service between Wilmington and Selma, California.
The company leases entire trains from BNSF, shipping fruits and vegetables to the Midwest, and poultry, eggs and meat to California, said John Greuling, chief executive of the Will County Center for Economic Development.
Martell said the 1,500-acre park will have the capacity to house up to 20 million square feet of building space. The company plans to build another 1 million square foot spec building on-site soon, Martell said.
Peter Gasparini, regional manager for Ledcor Construction, the company handing both excavation and construction duties, tried to put the scope of the project in perspective.
Gasparini said the 1.7 million square-foot buildings for the Michelin project will cover 40 acres on a 90-acre parcel, use 700,000 tons of steel and 1,200 pieces of pre-cast siding, along with 3,700 columns and beams and 13,000 sprinkler heads.
Also attending Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony were state Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield, and Dan Seals, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development.
“This is exactly what our state is missing,” Anthony said of the development.