The FedEx Ground distribution center is a step closer to reality.
The approval of two separate agreements by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority on Tuesday shows the potential for moving the project forward, even though approvals on the FedEx project are still pending.
The Rockefeller Group wants to develop the FedEx center in Allen Township in Northampton County on 260 acres of land north of the airport off Willowbrook Road. The purchase is worth $9.9 million.
In October 2013, the authority agreed to sell the land to Rockefeller, and, on Tuesday, the organization approved the purchase and sale agreement with Rockefeller and a separate three-party agreement with Rockefeller Group and FedEx Ground.
“They [Rockefeller and FedEx] are going to front the cash for the environmental assessment,” said Darren Betters, director of commercial services at LNAA. “If Rockefeller and/or FedEx cannot complete the sale, then we will not pay them.”
While the schedule of payment is to be determined, Robert Donchez, the solicitor for the airport authority, said the closing under the agreement is 30 days after those conditions have been satisfied.
Developers have been eyeing land surrounding the airport for potential commercial/industrial sites, and the airport authority has been looking for ways to reduce its debt from prior court judgments tied to a 1990s lawsuit.
Meanwhile, at the township level, the Allen Township board of supervisors has not approved the FedEx project, said Dale Hassler, township supervisor. The Allen Township Planning Commission has approved the project and passed it along to supervisors.
“We are still reviewing the information, and a time-frame for approval still is not known,” Hassler said.
There are actions needed on waivers and deferrals on a number of issues in the plans of both the developer and FedEx, said Larry Oberly, township supervisor.
If approved, the project, estimated to cost more than $300 million to build, would take several years to complete.