VOL. 129 | NO. 147 | Wednesday, July 30, 2014
ABF Freight Acquires Two Memphis Properties
By Amos Maki
ABF Freight System Inc. appears poised to significantly expand its Memphis presence, but company officials aren’t saying it’s a done deal just yet.
ABF, through affiliate Transport Realty Inc., has purchased two properties on Frisco Avenue around its existing terminal in the Castalia neighborhood near the Memphis Defense Depot.
ABF Freight System Inc. is closer to a possible expansion of its Memphis presence. An affiliate has purchased two properties near ABF’s current facility.
The Fort Smith, Ark.-based company said earlier this year that it would need to acquire additional properties near its existing terminal if it followed through with a major expansion plan it was considering.
Kathy Fieweger, chief marketing officer for ABF’s parent company, ArcBest Corp., confirmed the purchase of the properties and said a final decision on the possible Memphis expansion could come later this year or early in 2015.
“We have closed on the properties purchase … and will be soon filing for building permits,” Fieweger said. “In addition, there are terms in our labor agreement which must be met and (the) decision would be final after the required change of operations procedure is complete – expected sometime later this year or early next.”
While Fieweger said no final decision had been made, the company previously said it would need to acquire properties on Frisco if it followed through with a Memphis expansion.
After acquiring 5.2 acres at 2147 Frisco Ave. for $99,000 in February, ABF purchased 8.6 acres at 2089 Frisco for $500,000 earlier this month.
ABF could invest around $20.5 million to expand its Memphis terminal. For jobs-hungry Memphis, the project would mean 283 new employees with an average annual compensation of $73,356, which stretches to $107,298 with benefits, far above many of the more high-profile economic development opportunities to hit Memphis and Shelby County over the last several years.
ABF’s existing 42,000-square-foot terminal, at 2080 Dunn and 2147 Frisco, would be enlarged to 138,000 square feet.
In May, the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County approved a $4 million payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive for ABF if the transportation firm expanded its existing Memphis terminal at 2080 Dunn Ave.
The less-than-truckload carrier’s expansion would generate $21.5 million in new tax revenue over 14 years – or $5.30 in tax revenue for every $1 abated – for Memphis and Shelby County, according to an EDGE staff analysis.
“The potential ABF expansion in Memphis is extremely exciting, especially when you consider the high-paying jobs the company will bring to Memphis and Shelby County,” said Trey Heath, director of marketing and communications for EDGE. “As part of the company’s PILOT, ABF agreed to hold job fairs and hire from the surrounding neighborhood, something we believe will have a substantial positive impact in the area.”
When it applied for the PILOT incentive, the third-party logistics and transportation company said it was also considering sites in East Arkansas and North Mississippi for the regional hub that is currently located in North Little Rock, touching off a multi-state battle for the project and the jobs it will bring.
Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, asked company officials to consider locating the hub in West Memphis, saying ABF could “be in Memphis without being in Memphis,” according to Arkansas Business.
Heath said ABF’s possible expansion is another example highlighting the city and county’s efforts to grow the transportation and logistics sectors.
“If you look at the projects that EDGE has worked on in just the past two years, you will find that ABF is just one significant terminal expansion,” Heath said. “Last year, EDGE approved a project for Old Dominion’s terminal expansion on State Line Road, which was followed by the ABF project this year. We hope to be able to continue that momentum into next year and continue to attract jobs for Memphis and Shelby County.”