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FORT PAYNE, AL-The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc., headquartered in Secaucus, NJ, has entered the “sock capital of the world,” breaking ground on a 700,000-sf automated distribution center. Estimated costs on the center, which will be situated on 120 acres, range from $30 million to $40 million.

Representatives from Children’s Place did not return telephone calls to discuss the project, which is going up along Airport Road West between exits 218 and 222 of Interstate 59.

Children’s Place, an apparel retailer, is building the second tilt-wall structure in a city just south of the Tennessee border. Ferguson Enterprises, which manufactures and distributes plumbing fixtures nationwide, developed a 750,000-sf facility along Jordan Road six years ago.

“I think when Ferguson came in back in 2000, they put us on the map for distribution centers,” says Jimmy Durham, executive director with the Dekalb County Economic Development Authority. “We’ve always felt we were in a good location though we compete with Memphis and Atlanta.”

Durham tells GlobeSt.com that the process of bringing Children’s Place into Fort Payne began in February 2006. “We made the short list, I guess, prior to us knowing about it,” he says, adding that the company originally had 60 potential locations for the center. Children’s Place has distribution centers in Ontario, CA; Dayton, NJ; and Ontario, Canada.

Durham speculates that one reason Children’s Place decided to place the distribution center in his neck of the woods was due to incentives from the city, which included a 10-year, non-educational property tax abatement as well as abatements on sales and use taxes. “The local workforce and assistance we gave them while they were here on site visits was likely a significant factor,” he says.

The distribution center will take a year to complete. “There’s room for more development, definitely,” Durham says. “The city owns the property right now, and at some point will deed it over to them.”

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