On Nov. 17, KeHE Distributors and Stotan Industrial, with support from St. Johns County, held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of the construction of a new, premier facility.
Chicago-based developer Stotan Industrial is developing a 530,474-square-foot, built-to-suit development for KeHE Distributors at 3800 Deerpark Blvd., Elkton.
The event featured remarks from James McGill, president/principal of Stotan Industrial; Chris Sieburg, executive vice president, operations at KeHE; and Vice Chair Sarah Arnold, District 2, St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners.
“We are breaking ground on history,” Arnold said. “Today marks a benchmark moment in the county, establishing a new level of economic development and growth. We are keeping a thriving and growing corporation here in the county. KeHE has a long history as an organic food distributor here in St. Johns County, but most importantly, they are a valued member of our community.”
“We were fortunate to be selected as the developer of KeHE’s new Southeast regional headquarters,” McGill said. “KeHE’s strong growth in the Southeast resulted in the need for a larger and more modern facility to handle this growth and customer requirements. All of us at Stotan Industrial are very excited to be part of this project and the journey.”
KeHE is the largest distributor of natural, organic, specialty and fresh products to more than 31,000 natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers and other specialty product retailers throughout North America.
With more than 6,800 employee-owners, KeHE is a Certified B Corporation.
KeHE will utilize the property as one of its Southeast distribution centers, which will include 29,887 square feet of office space for employees, 390,000 square feet of dry warehouse and 105,000 square feet of cooler/freezer space. The facility will serve several of KeHE’s key retail partners throughout parts of the Southeast. The total value of the land and equipment is assessed at more than $88.5 million. KeHE will retain 345 jobs and add another 100 jobs as a result of this new facility, with a focus on hiring residents of St. Johns County.
Additionally, the development will improve safety at the intersection of State Road 207 and Deerpark Boulevard, as a new traffic signal plan will be implemented as part of the county’s incentive agreement.
“We thought, at all costs, we have to keep them here,” County Administrator Joy Andrews said. “Their employees are family, and they are putting food on the table for our families. We went through a number of sites to try to find the right solution for them, where there is adequate space, where there is room for future growth, and where there will not be a compatibility issue for the community around them. We found the perfect spot.”
“We’ve been in St. Johns County since the early 1970s with a company called the Tree of Life,” Sieburg said. “At this particular location, we have several hundred professional warehouse workers and professional truck drivers. It was so important to us that we picked a location where we didn’t have to build a new team because we already have an amazing team. There are great demographics in St. Johns County and it’s a growing county. We’ve got great roots here and we’re excited about staying here.”