LIVONIA, MI-A major grocery store chain has moved its perishable distribution operations from a 40-year-old center in Detroit to a new 362,000-sf facility in Livonia. Farmer Jack of Detroit has expanded its operations to the new $43-million building, allowing more efficient processing of perishable goods, says Tom Litzler, vice president of development.

“We built the new facility for a lot of reasons,” he tells “It was too old, and was actually a collection of smaller buildings. We were more or less at capacity. It was also too low, the new facility has higher ceilings in which we can place more cubes (shipments).”

The new building on Plymouth Road is three times higher than the previous 360,000-sf buildings on Burt Road in Detroit. The expansion makes moving boxes easier, he says.

“It’s a more pleasant environment to work in, and there’s a much better truck staging area. It’s also got more room to grow into. It’s a better fit for our employees and our vendors,” Litzler explains.

The former building was leased by Farmer Jack from an out-of-state owner, who Litzler did not want to name. The building’s lease expires imminently, he adds.

Ashley Capital of New York City owns the new building, and is leasing it to the grocery store chain.

Litzler says the facility is the first new distribution center built in 35 years for the chain’s parent company, Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. of Montvale, NJ.

The company will continue to distribute non-perishable goods from the headquarters building on Borman Avenue in Detroit.

Farmer Jack earned a $1-million Single Business Tax credit from the Michigan Department of Treasury for the new building. However, the company failed in its application for a $4.3-million brownfield tax credit to clean up the property, formerly owned by the Fisher Body Co. automotive firm.

“Some people get the brownfield credits, and some don’t” Litzler says.

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