June 17--Goya Foods Inc. expects to open its $127 million regional distribution center and headquarters in Jersey City this fall, two years after the groundbreaking ceremony for the massive building, a company official said Monday.
The 638,000-square-foot facility at 360 County Road will likely have a "soft opening" in either late September or early October, Goya Executive Vice President Peter Unanue said.
"We typically give ourselves a month or two to get fully operational, so a grand opening would probably be more toward the end of the year," he said.
The facility, on a 40-acre site in the Meadowlands that had been undeveloped, is expected to be state-of-the-art in terms of eco-friendliness, floor construction and post-Sandy emergency safeguards, which include backup electrical generators operating on both diesel and natural gas. Amenities for the 500 workers on the campus will include a gym, a cafeteria and an outdoor walking/jogging path, all in keeping with Goya's health initiatives for employees.
As the nation's largest Hispanic-owned food company, Goya has been outgrowing its longtime warehouse in Secaucus. The company will continue to use the 240,000-square-foot building at 100 Seaview Drive, where it has been since 1974, after renovating it, while it also consolidates some operations at its Jersey City building, including functions from its 155,000-square-foot Long Island warehouse and distribution facility in Bethpage, N.Y., Unanue said.
Goya's growth mode includes opening three other manufacturing and distribution facilities, in Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles. New Jersey gave Goya $82 million in tax incentives in 2011 to retain a presence in the state.
A recent tour of the Jersey City facility was provided by executives including Clark Machemer, vice president and regional director of Rockefeller Group Development Corp., the project's developer. The shell of the building appeared basically finished, and contractors were expected to start installing racks for inventory soon.
The Rockefeller Group sold the site to Goya for $27 million, and the construction cost for the facility is $100 million. "It's really our largest investment," Unanue said. "It's an investment in the future, infrastructure for our growth."
Ten of the site's 40 acres are wetlands, creating a huge challenge in terms of storing heavy loads, Unanue said.
Contractors used a patented technology, Controlled Modulus Columns, to construct the floor. That process involved some 12,000 concrete-injected pilings, covered by more than 3,000 truckloads of gravel. The design "densifies" the ground and prevents the facility's floor from sagging or buckling.
The floor is "rated at 1,100 pounds per square foot," Machemer said during the tour.
"This warehouse is 42-foot clear, and our products are heavy," Unanue said. "As we store high, it's increasingly important for the floor to be flat, because any deviation in the floor is exaggerated at that height. ... We want it be flat and safe 20, 30 years from now."
The facility's eco-friendly features will include solar panels on the roof and waterless urinals.
"We're going for a net-zero carbon footprint," Unanue said. "We're trying to make a good environment for our employees and for generations to come."
Goya purchased seven acres adjacent to the Jersey City facility for additional car and truck parking, Unanue said. The food company also plans to put a truck servicing shop on that lot.
"It's not fully laid out yet, but we're thinking between a 10,000- and 12,000-square-foot structure for maintaining our tractor-and-trailer fleet," Unanue said.
At its Secaucus production and packaging facility, Goya is working with the Norfolk Southern rail company and state transit officials to restore freight service that was suspended about 20 years ago. That would reduce the costs of bringing in raw goods in and shipping out finished products, Unanue said.
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Original headline: A sneak peek at Goya's stronghold in wetlands
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