HANOVER TWP. — A construction project on a formerly coal-scarred tract of land in the Hanover Industrial Park is expected to bring up to 2,000 jobs to the area once it is completed, according to one of the site’s developers.
Township Manager Sam Guesto said NorthPoint Development, a Kansas City-based real estate development, management and leasing firm, has purchased a large tract of coal-scarred land that has been remediated.
Brent Miles, vice president at NorthPoint Development, said the company will construct three speculative buildings on the site and lease them to tenants.
Miles said the buildings will total about 2 million square feet and when all three are leased, he expects about 1,500 to 2,000 new jobs to be created.
“A football field is about one acre,” Miles said. “The first building currently under construction will be about the size of 18 to 19 football fields.”
The first building is being built at 600 New Commerce Boulevard in the industrial park.
Chewy.com, an online retailer of pet food and other pet-related products based in Dania Beach, Florida, will lease that building, bringing 600 new jobs to the region. The facility is expected to open sometime around April or May.
As stated on its website, Chewy was founded by people with a serious passion for helping pets, offering some 30,000 items for dogs and cats.
The building to be leased to Chewy.com totals 800,000 square feet, Miles said. Miles said once NorthPoint became aware of the site, they contacted Guesto.
“Mr. Guesto and Hanover Township were terrific to work with,” Miles said. “We are making a total investment of about $100 million, and we felt very comfortable making that commitment after dealing with the people at Hanover Township.”
Miles said the original plan was to construct four buildings, but it was changed to three to allow for larger facilities for prospective tenants.
According to the Chewy.com website, the company has a facility in Mechanicsburg. Several available jobs are posted on the site, including forklift operator at $14.75 per hour and fulfillment specialists at $13.75 per hour. The site also lists job advertisements for a purchasing specialist and a customer experience program manager in Wilkes-Barre.
Numerous calls and emails to the Chewy.com corporate headquarters in Florida went unanswered.
Guesto said the site development is a major step in the right direction for the township.
“Especially for that tract of land,” Guesto said. “It had been vacant for a while and has been remediated.”
Guesto said the tract sits in a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) which exempts the owners from paying property and mercantile taxes for 10 years.
“But without those type of tools, we would never be able to attract anybody to those parcels,” Guesto said. “We looked at this from a couple of angles — we will receive realty transfer taxes and with the construction of three buildings, there will be a significant influx of building permit fees.”
Additionally, Guesto said the township will collect right to work taxes from all employees.
“And there will be 600 new jobs created immediately with the promise of many more, perhaps as many as 1,000 more jobs,” Guesto said. “Without the KOZ designations, the developer probably wouldn’t have chosen to purchase the land and build the buildings here.”
Guesto said when the project is completed, with three new buildings, there will be 1,500 to 2,000 new jobs that weren’t available before and that could lead to additional development of support businesses for those workers — gas stations, mini-markets, restaurants, etc.
“By the sheer thought of the 600 jobs that Chewy will bring, there would have to be some additional businesses open up to accommodate those workers,” Guesto said.
Guesto said the Luzerne County Council, Hanover Township commissioners and Hanover Area School Board approved abatement of the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act for the property that will extend to the end of 2026.
John Augustine III, president/CEO of Penn’s Northeast, said the organization worked first-hand with representatives from Chewy.com to showcase the availability of a strong local workforce. Penn’s Northeast is a public/private partnership of agencies dedicated to assisting businesses interested in locating within Northeastern Pennsylvania. The organization serves Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Wayne and Schuylkill counties and the community of Berwick. Augustine said the goal of Penn’s Northeast is to attract quality employers to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“We are glad that they have chosen Northeastern PA for their expansion,” Augustine said. “In addition, we are pleased to welcome NorthPoint Development, owners and developers of the property, to our region and are looking forward to working with them on future job-creation announcements.”