Dart is moving into a new warehouse on County Line Road and hiring 35 employees, allowing for the construction to begin on a 72-acre business park.
Dart Container, the manufacturer and distributer of the ubiquitous red Solo cup and other food service packaging products, is increasing its presence in Plant City by moving into a new 77,500-square-foot warehouse on County Line Road and hiring 35 employees.
Dart has been in Plant City since 1983. In 2014, the company completed a 400,000-square-foot expansion to its Turkey Creek Road facility and increased the number of employees from 230 to 375. The County Line Road expansion will be Dart’s second in the last five years.
“They basically ran out of space from the previous expansion and moved into almost 80,000 square feet of new space in County Line Commerce Center,” Alyssa Cerrito, marketing and communications manager of the Plant City Economic Development Corporation said.
Cerrito said building speculative space — new space built without prior leasing agreements — gives current businesses in Plant City more options as they grow and more reason to stay in the city. The space can also attract new business, she said.
Building such space can also provide job opportunities to the community. With the Dart expansion, County Line Commerce Center has allowed for almost 200 jobs in Plant City. Expanding city services to County Line Road, Cerrito said, was a gamble the city took that has paid off.
“It was a big investment in infrastructure to have that speculative space on County Line Road,” she said. “You already are seeing how it’s paying off. It won’t be long before our side of County Line Road looks like the Lakeland side of County Line.”
Dart is taking over the last portion of space at the County Line Commerce Center, a 28-acre development on County Line Road, south of Interstate 4. It was built by Central Florida Development, a full service real estate development, construction, and property management company and completed in 2015. Fitlife Foods, Sparkle Skirts and International Paper also lease warehouse space at County Line Commerce Center.
According to the EDC, Dart’s expansion into the last vacant space of County Line Commerce Center allows CFD to begin constructing the first building of its newest park, Central Florida Commerce Center, which will provide 140,000 square feet of speculative space. Site work has been completed on the new business park and CFD is expected to break ground on the first building soon, the EDC said.
“We’re excited to begin construction of another speculative project in Plant City,” Richard LeFrois, Central Florida Development President, said in a news release. “The city’s pro-business attitude and great location have helped drive our success in leasing our buildings. We are confident the momentum will continue and are already seeing significant interest in our other business parks along I-4.”
According to Cerrito, building speculative space can be a cyclical process with speed of development in Plant City. As companies grow, they can expand into the new spaces and developers can, in turn, build new space.
“The incredible demand we’re seeing for new development in Plant City is the direct result of our efforts to make it even easier for businesses to take advantage of our ideal location and find the workforce, facilities and business assistance they need to get up and running quickly,” said former City Manager Mike Herr. “The speed with which CFD has been able to build the first spec building and move forward with the second shows how quickly we can respond to meet business needs and keep up with fast growth.”