URBN fulfillment center

EDITOR'S NOTE: The name of roofing contractor, Schultheis Roofing Inc., of New Kensington, was corrected at 1 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31.

Four months into the development of a huge fulfillment center by international retailer URBN, corporate leaders have narrowed the purpose for the single largest structure Indiana County has ever known.

Now estimated at 892,000 square feet, URBN’s center on 48.5 acres of the Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park in White Township will be dedicated to the furniture lines handled by the company’s Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie chains of stores.

Philadelphia-based URBN signed agreements in September to establish this, a national distribution point, in the industrial park owned by Indiana County Development Corporation following a year of negotiations between the company and local economic development leaders, facilitated by then-state Rep. Dave Reed.

It’s expected to result in a major economic infusion for the region. URBN’s center is a $30 million investment, including $5 million for the site and $25 million for construction, a yearlong job projected to put about 600 area tradesmen and builders to work.

That sort of activity energizes company leaders as much as it piques interest in Indiana County.

“I will tell you, we are still as excited about this project as we were the first day we met all you guys in Indiana,” said Chief Development Officer David Ziel.

By the targeted Oct. 1 opening day, URBN expects to hire 225 full-time workers at the complex, serving the company’s retail outlets and online customers.

Ziel told The Indiana Gazette on Tuesday that the company expects to soon award construction and procurement contracts for the center.

Land-moving has been underway on generally an around-the-clock, seven-days-a-week schedule that has moved along flawlessly, Ziel said.

“In permitting, we’re pretty close. We still have a couple of DEP things concerning the wetlands on the property, but no problems with permitting and approvals. All good,” Ziel said.

“We’re still in very good shape for a prospective go-live date of 10-1 or earlier. The work agreed upon between URBN and ICDC is still on track, and our relationship remains really, really strong.

“Everything from an earth and soils point of view has been good, as expected, no surprises,” Ziel said. “The town and the inspection groups and all of our engineers and architects, and especially the local building groups, have been wonderful and have been very supportive of helping us to build this project very, very quickly.”

Both large and small companies from the region, and a couple previously in URBN’s stable of site development companies, have been clearing the ground for the center since late September. Soon, more local contractors and suppliers will be on site.

Rayne Township-based excavation company Shadco has led the site work; Schultheis Roofing Inc., of New Kensington will do the roof; Glass Erectors Inc., of Reynoldsville, Jefferson County, will do doors, frames, hardware and glazing; a local division of Schindler Elevator Corp. will install elevators; K & K Plumbing Co., of Johnstown, has the plumbing contract; and Bob Biter Electrical Enterprises, of Cresson, will handle the wiring.

Either Remington Pallets & Crates, of Vintondale, or Norris Pallets, of Elderton, will provide and recycle pallets, “which is massive,” Ziel said.

Penngate Handling Systems, of York County, will come in to provide racking and forklifts. Ziel estimated 760,000 square feet of distribution space will be covered with racking.

And once the monstrous structure is under roof, furnished and ready for business, its niche is certain.

“This facility becomes URBN’s one and only, and first, furniture distribution and repair facility,” Ziel said. “It’s the 110 percent sole focus” and replaces outsourcing contracts.

“All furniture fulfillment for all brands, Urban, Anthro, any of our brands, will be done from this facility nationally.”

The Indiana center also will handle what Ziel called nonconveyables — “all the things that don’t fit in our IFCs, or internet fulfillment centers, and that don’t work in the MHE (material handling equipment) systems” — generally, large and fragile merchandise like rugs and record players, for all of its brands. That section will serve only the eastern U.S., Ziel said.

URBN’s other divisions include Terrain (a division of Anthropologie), Free People, BHLDN (said “Beholden”) and Vetri Family.

URBN in Indiana will feature 60,000 square feet of office space on two levels, for management teams and a furniture call center.

Indiana County workforce development agencies will team up to coordinate the staffing for the fulfillment center.

Under auspices of the Indiana County Career Link, representatives of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana County Technology Center, TriCounty Workforce Investment Board, the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, the county commissioners and other economic promoters in the county have planned a mid-February conference to chart the strategy for hiring for URBN.

The annual Indiana County Employment Expo 2019, scheduled for April 4, is expected to be an introduction of the recruitment effort for the URBN fulfillment center.

Staff writer/Web Editor, The Indiana (Pa.) Gazette

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the Indiana Area and Homer-Center school boards and White Township, Center Township, Homer City and Burrell Township, and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.