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JESSUP, MD-Landover, MD-based Giant Food Inc. has broken ground on a 370,000-sf distribution center, which will occupy a 73-acre parcel along Dorsey Run Road in Howard County. Development of the new facility–which is scheduled to debut in the summer of 2003–is expected to cost upwards of a reported $45 million, and will replace the supermarket chain’s current 45-year-old perishables distribution center on the site of the company’s Prince George’s County corporate headquarters.

Giant’s decision to build in Jessup came as a disappointment to Prince George’s County officials who objected to the idea of losing the 550 employment openings the facility will ultimately offer. While the company has not disclosed the cost of the entire site the building will occupy, Howard County records show Giant recently acquired a 46-acre plot on Dorsey Run from the Exeter Corporation for $9.6 million, indicating that a solid 73-acre purchase could have cost about $15 million.

“This site is a significant acquisition for Giant Food as it will allow them to considerably expand their presence in the Baltimore Washington region and dramatically increase their distribution capacity,” Madison Retail Group’s Al Gonsouland says. Madison has worked with Giant on many of its previous land acquisition deals and brokered the Jessup land acquisition deal. “One of Giant’s key requirements for site location was access,” Gonsouland continues, “the site clearly provides this with its close proximity to several key traffic corridors.” The sprawling parcel also allows for a great deal of future growth.

Over the summer, the Maryland General Assembly’s Legislative Policy Committee signed off on a $1.3 million grant from the state’s Sunny Day Fund to help with the development of the new facility. Giant will receive an additional $500,000 from the state in the form of tax credits and training grants. Upon completion the new center will dispense fresh produce, meats, seafood, dairy and deli products to nearly 200 Giant stores in five regional states.

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