Houston-based Stage Stores, Inc., a billion-dollar, multi-state business with over 13,000 employees, has tentatively agreed to expand its local distribution center operations in Jacksonville — in the process potentially creating more than 100 jobs in town by late 2015.
The City Council on Friday authorized the Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation to pay as much as $1.1 million to help the business — also known as Specialty Retailers, Inc.— secure new property in the 1600 block of North Bolton.
The arrangement is an “agreement in principle” with the understanding that the contractual papers will be formally drawn up and the money disbursed by JEDCO.
According to reports, $500,000 of the promised amount will be paid to the company after purchase of the building and city receipt of a certificate of occupancy. If the company does not purchase the property but leases it instead, the money must be repaid, reports show.
In a memo to Mel Ward Sr., vice president of real estate for Specialty Retailers, JEDCO President Darrell W. Prcin expressed great pleasure at the promising new partnership between the company and the city.
“We sincerely believe that this award and your organization's desire to expand its operations to Jacksonville will be mutually beneficial for all,” Prcin said in the memo.
The proposed subsidy was approved unanimously by the council Friday afternoon after a thorough motion covering a lot of legal ground — it specifically included the 106 additional Jacksonville jobs — was read into the record by Councilman Billy McDonald and seconded by Councilwoman Ann Chandler.
According to its literature, Stage Stores Inc. operates 851 department sites in 40 states.
The incoming Specialty Retailers Inc. is expected to purchase property at 1653 North Bolton — a property owned by Astro Air, Inc., that consists of 109.58 acres of land, a property tax value of $299,310, and improvements containing 190,000 swear feet with a tax value of $1,822,690, according to company paperwork.
As part of the arrangement, the Houston-based company must maintain the 93 jobs already being performed at its current distribution center in town and add 106 additional jobs by Dec. 31, 2015.
At present, the company's existing distribution center serves Beall's, Goody's, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage Stores.
The expanded facility would help distribution for Steele, the company's off-price stores and e-commerce website business, among other ventures.
The company currently distributes all merchandise to its stores through three distribution centers located in Jacksonville, South Hill, Va., and Jeffersonville, Ohio.