UPS opening distribution center on Red Lion Road

UPS announced it plans to open a one million-square foot package sortation and distribution center at 1 Red Lion Road in 2022.

Package delivery giant UPS is officially moving into the former Budd Plant site at 1 Red Lion Road, the company announced.

Residents of Bustleton and Somerton have been speculating what could be coming to the property since it was purchased by Commercial Development Corp. in March 2018.

UPS said the facility will be 1 million square feet in size, smaller than the property’s original advertisement and early plans, which featured a 1.85-million-square-foot facility. The former Budd Co. plant totaled 1.1 million square feet.

No blueprints are finalized as the company is “early in the planning and feasibility phase,” a representative told the Times.

Work on the warehouse is tentatively expected to begin in 2021, though could start as early as later this year. It is expected to be completed in 2022.

The facility will feature “highly automatic package operations” like automated scanning, sortation and conveyor technology to move packages through the facility quickly.

PennDOT and the city streets department are performing a traffic study and results will be shared at future community meetings. The study will include if any road work will need to be completed.

Community meetings will be held for residents to learn more information and have their voices heard.

“We value the input of the local community surrounding the Red Lion Road property, and look forward to engaging through elected officials, local business organizations and community meetings,” UPS told the Times in a statement.

The company will continue to add to the soil cap dubbed “Mt. Somerton” by neighbors. The dirt will eventually be spread across all 138 acres of the property.

The center is part of a $1.4 billion investment from UPS to add a new “super hub” in Harrisburg and three package sortation and distribution centers to Philadelphia, Carlisle and the Lehigh Valley. The company plans to add more than 5 million square feet of automated sortation space globally in 2020. The expansion will create 1,721 new full-time jobs in the commonwealth.

Uneasy neighbors

Since the announcement in March 2018, residents in Somerton, Bustleton and other surrounding areas have become weary of a warehouse moving to the location.

Somerton and Bustleton civic leagues combined to hold a couple of informational interviews about the warehouse, and neighbors staged a protest at Bustleton Avenue and Red Lion Road asking for new information in November about the warehouse after a year and a half of silence.

At a million square feet, the plans are smaller the original 1.85 million square feet being advertised. The original plans included 350 truck bays and 704 parking spaces on the site.

“We support development of the site but want our elected officials to support our opposition to the size and to represent that opinion,” was the Greater Bustleton Civic League’s official stance as of its January meeting, before the announcement was made.

GBCL president Jack O’Hara recently met with representatives from the company.

“Our meeting with the UPS team was a start and appreciated,” O’Hara said.

“But not much has changed with regard to a 24/7, quarter-mile long distribution warehouse operating out of a residential area,” he added.