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Equipment auction set for Bethlehem’s Coca-Cola plant; site to become Coke distribution center

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Beverage production has stopped at the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of the Lehigh Valley. The processing and packaging equipment of the plant will be sold during a three-day online auction . (file photo)
Beverage production has stopped at the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of the Lehigh Valley. The processing and packaging equipment of the plant will be sold during a three-day online auction . (file photo)

Now that beverage production has stopped at the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of the Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem, an equipment auction sale is set for this month.

New Mill Capital Holdings, headquartered in Los Angeles, said it would sell the processing and packaging equipment of the plant during a three-day online auction closing Aug. 23. At the completion of the auction, the plant, which produced Coca-Cola, Sprite, A-Treat and other carbonated beverages, will become a distribution center.

New Capital will conduct the auction online with bidding opening on Aug. 21. The company will host an open equipment inspection at the plant at 2150 Industrial Drive on Aug. 21 and Aug. 22.

Coca-Cola will remain a tenant in the plant, said Jessica Wickering, director of marketing for New Mill Capital Holdings, in an email.

Earlier this year, ABARTA, a Pittsburgh-based company that owns the Lehigh Valley bottling plant, submitted a letter of intent to the company to acquire all Coca-Cola territories in Pennsylvania except Philadelphia. ABARTA plans to continue operations at the Lehigh Valley facility, which has about 125 employees.

Joe Brake, former vice president and general manager of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of the Lehigh Valley, said that employment figure should remain the same when it becomes a distribution center.

“Some of the jobs are going to be a little different,” Brake said. “We will have more forklift drivers, sales. … All in all, the future is pretty bright for Coca-Cola in the Lehigh Valley.”

Brake has been serving on the transition team for the sales department during the ABARTA and Coca-Cola territory acquisition, which was completed at the end of July. Brake now serves as the public relations manager and said he plans to retire next year.

ABARTA will end up owning about 90 percent of the Coca-Cola facilities in the state, Brake said.

When the production closure was announced in February, a spokeswoman from Philadelphia’s Coca-Cola Co.-North American Group described the move as a business restructuring, part of Coca-Cola’s plan to refranchise its territories throughout the U.S. and Canada by the end of the year.

The Coca-Cola name brand is an iconic one for the Valley, as it is part of the name of Allentown’s minor league baseball stadium, Coca-Cola Park.

In 2015, Brake signed a contract to continue the company’s naming rights of the stadium at Coca-Cola Park through 2027.

A-Treat, which developer David Jaindl bought in 2015, is producing its soda through a bottler in the Northeast, said Luke Jaindl. He declined to provide further information about where the bottler is located.

Carbonated beverage bottling and can-filling lines, stainless mix tanks, water treatment and production support equipment are among the assets to be sold, according to New Capital.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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