Uline Corp. inks deal with Collier commissioners to build distribution center

Patrick Riley
Naples Daily News

A new center for a major distributor of shipping, packaging and industrial supplies is one step closer to arriving in Collier County.

Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement with Uline Corp. for the construction of a regional distribution center near the county's new amateur sports complex.

"Really, this is more than exciting...," Commissioner Penny Taylor said shortly before the vote, addressing a company executive. "We really look forward to you coming here."

The Wisconsin-based company plans to build a nearly 1 million-square-foot regional distribution facility west of the sports complex, which is located east of Collier Boulevard and north of Interstate 75.

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The distribution center would employ about 190 warehouse and 30 office workers, according a report by county staff to commissioners.

With more than 6,500 employees across North America, Uline has distribution centers near Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, and cities in Mexico and Canada, among others, according to the company's website.

"We've worked on this for several months," Deputy County Manager Nick Casalanguida told commissioners. "As you can see with the information provided in the packet, this is a fairly large project."

Per the agreement with the county, the company will relocate City Gate Boulevard South at no cost to the county. Uline will also add parking for the sports complex, enlarge the recreation lake at the park and add an outdoor obstacle course for public use.

The company will also add two small fitness areas around the lake, Casalanguida said.

Out of the agreement, the county will net about 500 more parking spaces for the sports complex, "which is significant," Casalanguida said. 

That also sets the county up to potentially add a parking garage in the future. 

"If we're extremely successful with the stadium, which we hope to be, we'll have room to put a parking garage there," Casalanguida said.

All in, the county will receive about $6.66 million in land and physical improvements, and of that amount Uline would receive a repayment through a tax-increment funding agreement of up to about $1.44 million after the project is completed, according to county officials. 

The county agreed to "fast track" permitting for the project and provide construction easements to the company.

The project would be located in an innovation zone, which was approved by commissioners in 2018 and surrounds the intersection of I-75 and Collier Boulevard.

Innovation zones are meant to spur economic development such as corporate headquarters and manufacturing plants. The program functions similarly to Community Redevelopment Areas. 

The commission sets the base tax year and geographical area, and then any tax increase collected in the area can be captured and deposited in a trust fund developers can tap.

To qualify for the incentives, developers have to get their projects approved before building them. The funds can help cover county permit and impact fees and other development- and construction-related costs.

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Phil Hunt, executive vice president at Uline, told commissioners his company is excited to build its ninth U.S. facility in Collier "to service our quickly growing Florida customers."

"We build Class A buildings and Class A parks, and your entertainment and sports complex is top-notch, and we thought that would be a perfect fit for our building and your needs," he said.

A retail center has been proposed for the looming steel skeleton that has stood unfinished for a decade on the southwest corner of Davis and Collier boulevards in East Naples.

Online retail giant Amazon has proposed a distribution center not far from the planned Uline project.

Commissioners in June agreed that a "Last Mile" distribution center for Amazon is a "comparable and compatible use" on roughly 18 acres designated for commercial development at the southwest corner of Davis and Collier boulevards.

Amazon's proposed distribution center — used to receive, sort and deliver packages — would be housed in a newly constructed 105,000-square-foot building at 8760 Davis Boulevard.

That project would use a structure originally approved as a shopping center, modifying it to fit its needs. The development, known as Davis Crossing, was partially constructed but never occupied.

County officials said earlier this year that Amazon had not yet indicated a timeline for completion. 

Connect with the reporter at patrick.riley@naplesnews.com or on Twitter @PatJRiley.