Article by Cailin O’Brien.

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Transcript of Cailin O’Brien’s Clayton News Daily article:

FOREST PARK — Key players in Gillem’s development gathered at the site Thursday to celebrate the groundbreaking for an expansive regional distribution center.

“An 850,000-square foot building is 20-acres under roof,” said David Welch. “Or think about 17 football fields end to end and side to side. That’s how big this building will be.”

Welch works for Robinson Weeks Partnerships overseeing Gillem’s development. He said the potential building hasn’t been sold yet, but will likely attract “a Kroger-type of company” looking to distribute goods to Atlanta, the Carolinas, Florida and Tennessee.

“Somebody like that will be very interested in this building,” Welch said. “Or, one of the E-commerce companies like an Amazon that wants to be close to the interstate so it can do the next-day deliveries.”

For now, the area is just what Welch refers to as a “heap of dirt” created when construction companies tour down four of Gillem’s old buildings totalling 640,000-square feet. The workers saved antique bricks from the 40s-era buildings and engraved them with the names of people instrumental in getting Gillem going.

It was a continuation of the celebratory mood the city’s been feeling toward its new logistics center since it purchased the abandoned Fort Gillem about a year ago. Since that time, Kroger has bought space in the project to set up a distribution center.

“Even as late as this morning, I’ve been confirming with our (Planning, Zoning and Business) director that Kroger has obtained its certificate of occupancy,” said Mayor David Lockhart.

That’s good news for Forest Park. Welch said the city could see its tax digest double once Gillem is built out. For Lockhart, it’s a point of pride.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve already accomplished here,” he said. “I’m so excited still for this immediate development and then what’s to come.”