Logistics & Distribution Update: February 2021

by Lashay Smith
February 24, 2021

Explore Categories

Philadelphia has seen unprecedented real estate development in the booming logistics and distribution sector in recent years. One site that best exemplifies this surge in activity and PIDC’s role in supporting its growth is the former Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia’s Bridesburg neighborhood. In 2014, Dietz & Watson, a family-owned and operated Philadelphia-based purveyor of deli products suffered a catastrophic fire that destroyed its New Jersey distribution center. In response, PIDC coordinated a series of complicated land transactions from both private and public owners to acquire 66 acres of land adjacent to the company’s land.  Dietz & Watson acquired 20 acres of the assembled land to nearly double its footprint, invested $50 million, and constructed a 200,000 SF distribution center that efficiently combined its corporate headquarters and its manufacturing and distribution functions into a state-of-the-art campus. Dietz & Watson’s investment included access and parking improvements to the City of Philadelphia’s Frankford Boat Launch along the Delaware River.  PIDC’s assemblage also resulted in a second industrial development parcel to support future market demand.

In March 2018, less than three years after completing the Dietz & Watson transaction, PIDC issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the remaining development site to support logistics, distribution, warehousing, and manufacturing. The RFP solicited a robust market response and resulted in Honor Foods, a Philadelphia-based packaged food distributor and subsidiary of Milford, DE-based Burris Logistics, acquiring the site.  The company invested $43 million to construct a 235,000 SF headquarters and distribution center. 


PIDC’s Frankford Arsenal assemblage still has a role to play in Philadelphia’s logistics resurgence.  During the Dietz & Watson transaction, PIDC and the Philadelphia Commerce Department negotiated a land transaction with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to acquire a portion of the site to extend Delaware Avenue, a truck route from the PhilaPort Tioga Marine Terminal, to connect with a new I-95 interchange at Tacony St. The 1-mile road extension is projected to be completed sometime in 2024. It will divert truck traffic from Richmond St., which serves as a commercial corridor for Bridesburg and will provide access to a handful of waterfront industrial properties that can support up to 1.5 million SF of new logistics and distribution facilities. 

PennDOT’s Delaware Avenue extension project will also include an extension of the Delaware River Trail from the Arsenal Boat Launch to Bridesburg Park, a new 10-acre waterfront park along the Delaware River Trail. The City of Philadelphia is constructing on land it received from PIDC via a land swap needed to complete the Dietz & Watson transaction. The Bridesburg Park will serve as both community park and trailhead that will be accessible by PennDOT’s Delaware Avenue extension. Plans for Bridesburg Park feature a great lawn, a stage, an upper and lower meadow, a rain garden, a boardwalk, an event plaza, picnic pavilions, and a river overlook area. The park will use bio-retention swales with gravel that will filter storm water before it enters the river, as well as porous pathway materials to reduce runoff volume. The design integrates native meadow plants to encourage pollinators and returning wildlife. With an estimated cost of $5M, the City and its Parks and Recreation department expect to wrap up phase one of construction in 2022.

When construction activity for all parties – both public and private – is completed, the projects kicked-off by PIDC’s Frankford Arsenal land assemblage will result in $100 million in investment, 435,000 SF of modern distribution facilities, a 1-mile extension of a waterfront trail, 10 acres of new community park space, and a new highway interchange.   

Sources:  Curbed Philadelphia & Riverfront North Partnership

The growing developments in Philadelphia’s real estate reflect the strength of industrial demand in the city and confirm Philadelphia’s appeal as a location for logistics & distribution investment. View more of PIDC’s logistics and distribution updates.

Explore Categories