Thursday, February 08, 2001

Gap opts out of deal with county

$113 million warehouse is history

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Gap Inc. has shelved plans to build a distribution center in Harrison Township, a move that would have brought nearly 1,000 jobs to western Hamilton County.

        The retailer told Hamilton County officials Wednesday it doesn't need to build a $113 million warehouse to ship goods to its Banana Republic stores.

        The planned 675,000-square-foot warehouse and adjoining 130,000-square-foot facility for administrative and technical workers was supposed to replace Gap's smaller Hebron warehouse and transfer up to 996 jobs within five years.

        Instead, the company will stay put in Northern Kentucky for now, spokeswoman Stacy MacLean said.

        “I'm disappointed but don't have any control over why Gap made the decision,” said David Main, president of Hamilton County Development Co. “It's an attractive site and I'm confident someone else will be able to use it.”

        Ms. MacLean said the Hebron warehouse and another new distribution center in New York state will be enough to handle the company's needs.

        Friday, the company told investors through a federal filing that it intended to raise $250 million by selling debt securities to pay for expansion of distribution centers, new stores and other corporate purposes. The Securities and Exchange Commission filing did not indicate which projects the debt securities would fund.

        Like other retailers, Gap has been battered by Wall Street. The retailer's stock closed Wednesday at $29.56, down substantially from a 52-week high of $53.12.

        The company chose the Harrison Township site at Interstate 74 and Dry Fork Road after a seven-state search. Ohio and Hamilton County offered property and equipment tax breaks and a $1.5 million grant.

        Construction was supposed to start in January, but the Gap declined to exercise its option to purchase the land, Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin said.

        Hamilton County will continue its plans to widen roads leading to the 160-acre site for a future development. Some engineering and surveying work also has been completed.


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