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Manufacturer eyes future Harrington Industrial Park

Katie Tabeling
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Behind the Pepsico Distribution in Harrington, Rob Rider is looking to build a 53,333-square-foot manufacturing facility for powder coating. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

HARRINGTON — A manufacturer that focuses on powder coat steel parts is looking to build a small warehouse, in what could be the first of several businesses to come to a rising industrial park.

O.A. Newton President and CEO Rob Rider Jr. has filed plans to build a 53,333-square-foot warehouse on 299 Clukey Drive, right next door to O.A. Newton’s Harrington location. Preliminary plans for Matrix Coatings LLC show 26 parking spaces, two truck docks and 10 truck parking bays.

Siteworks Engineering Principal Edwin Tennefoss told state officials the plant will employ about 20 people. Rider was not immediately available for comment.

Based in Bridgeville, O.A. Newton started in 1916 as a farming and poultry business, but has evolved to a material handling business. The firm provides engineered material handling systems to producers of PVC pipe, vinyl siding, PVC fencing, wood composite decking, and carbon black handling solutions for the tire and rubber industry.

Most notably, Rider owns part of 131 acres off U.S. Route 13 alongside Messicks Road — tucked behind the Pepsico distribution center — with James Latham and the city of Harrington. For years, Harrington officials have hoped to redevelop that land into a multi-tenant facility to hire scores of employees and boost the town.

Harrington Interim Planning Director Jeremy Rothwell told the Delaware Business Times that the proposed warehouse for Matrix Coatings LLC is not dependent on railroad access.

The land is also bordered by railroad tracks, and a recent study suggests that leveraging that access by expanding the rail into the site and building a train terminal would raise the marketability of the site. If the track is laid, the study drafted by Whitman, Requardt and Associates, projects it could move more than 200,000 tons of freight per year and have an estimated truck demand between 50 and 130 one-way trips per day.

The study also mapped out the best land configuration to meet rising demand for transload terminals to ship commodities across the coast. The proposal shows 10 lots, varying between 5 and 25 acres each, which could allow for up to 750,000 square feet of industrial space. Matrix Coatings would be placed on a more than 9-acre parcel toward the front of the Harrington Industrial Park.

Earlier this week, the state’s investment board approved Harrington’s request for $1 million of Site Readiness Funds to cover $2.5 million for engineering, planning, and road and utility work for the 37 acres that it owns in the project. Officials reported that Harrington and the two developers have been working on the plan for years and hold a memorandum of understanding that is guiding its build-out.

The study completed late last year outlined that total site improvement costs for the full 131 acres is estimated at $20.3 million, with rail improvements and the terminal costing about $15 million. Roadwork and extending sewer and water infrastructure would cost $5.3 million.

Rothwell said that Harrington city officials are meeting with representatives of “a national intermodal freight operator” to review a draft operating agreement for the land.

This unknown freight operator had agreed to commit $1 million in matching funds to build the terminal, as part of Harrington’s site readiness grant application.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information from Harrington officials.

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