The vacant Lenox China building isn’t big enough to house online distributor Amazon.com, Galloway Township Mayor Don Purdy said on Monday afternoon, July 16.
“We looked into it,” Purdy said. “(Galloway Planner) Tiffany Cuviello looked into it, and the square footage isn’t right for what Amazon is looking for.”
Purdy said the Lenox building has 18-20 foot ceilings, while Amazon requires 30-foot ceilings for their buildings.
In May, Amazon announced its intention to build two warehouses in the state and collect seven percent state sales tax, beginning in July of 2013.
On June 2, resident and Democratic candidate for Council Jim McElwee wrote a suggesting the Lenox building would be an ideal spot for Amazon, and residents made similar suggestions at council meetings.
The roof could be raised, Purdy said, but there would be “major expenses” involved in a project like that. In addition to being too small, Purdy stated other factors would prevent Amazon from developing the Lenox property, and Councilman Jim Gorman said it was his belief Amazon was looking at facilities closer to Philadelphia.
“If there was a FedEx or a UPS at Atlantic City International Airport, that would be a benefit for Amazon,” Purdy said. “They need to be somewhere shipping costs less.”
Lenox China produced ceramics in Galloway Township for about 53 years, from 1953-2006, when it closed. It has remained vacant since its closing.
In March of this year, prevented at the vacant building in less than a week.
Purdy said he walked through the property last week, and it was in “bad shape.”
“There was a lot of mold, and the offices are trashed,” Purdy said of the property. “ … Anyone who wants to develop that building is going to have to put a lot of money into it.”
He said the outside of the building is structurally sound, and there has been interest in the site in the past, from manufacturers.
“We’ve had solar people come in here, glass recycling and a few others come and talk about different projects, but there were a lot of obstacles,” Purdy said.
Ultimately, though, those talks went nowhere.
Purdy wouldn’t be opposed to tearing the building down and replacing it with an entertainment district.
“I’ve heard people talk about putting a water park there,” Purdy said. “We could put a shopping mall in there, or a food court with a bunch of restaurants.”
“We could do something like the Comcast Center they did in Philadelphia,” said Gorman, referring to what has been labeled the “tallest green building in the country,” with an array of eateries, fountains and a 2,000-foot LED screen.
Gorman also referred to the “Boardwalk” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a 1.2 mile stretch that includes 15-20 specialty stores, restaurants and bars.
“I think that area would be great for an entertainment district,” Gorman said. “You have the expressway, the parkway, the airport; it’s in the middle of quite a bit.”
Gorman would be in favor of putting an entertainment district in the area, or of preserving the building if “the right project came along.”
“At this point, I’m in favor of anything that brings in ratables and jobs,” Gorman said. “Some people in this area have been out of work for quite a while, and we need something that’s going to bring jobs back.”
Amazon would’ve done just that. The recent announcement of a warehouse opening in Jeffersonville, Indiana brought with it the promise of creating more than 1,000 new jobs for the area.
That possibility is in the past, however, and Galloway is left continuing to look at that is becoming more famous for being vacant than for the ceramics it once produced.