Saturday, March 25, 2023

As Lumber Liquidators moves out of Toano, landlord seeks new tenant

Lumber Liquidators headquarters is in Toano. (WYDaily/ File photo)
The Lumber Liquidators headquarters is in Toano, but will move by the end of 2019. (WYDaily/ File photo)

Lumber Liquidators will leave Toano by the end of 2019, and the landlord has high hopes for the property.

The 315,000-square-foot building, which sits in the back of an industrial park off Barhamsville Road, has been home to Lumber Liquidators’ corporate headquarters since 2004.

Last month, the hardwood flooring company announced they would vacate the facility and move to Richmond. Now, real estate firm Binswanger is seeking a new tenant to move into the space by early 2020.

“We’ll be cranking up a pretty aggressive national marketing program,” said Binswanger Senior Vice President Doug Faris.

Finding the right tenant

Lumber Liquidators currently uses the facility as an office and manufacturing and distribution center for its Bellawood product line, James City County Director of Economic Development Amy Jordan said.

Jordan said Lumber Liquidators paid just over $104,000 in taxes to the county in fiscal year 2018, including machine and tools and business personal property tax.

That is $104,000 the county won’t be able to rely on when planning budgets after Lumber Liquidators moves on. James City County’s Board of Supervisors approved a budget of $255 million for fiscal year 2019.

Interim County Administrator Bill Porter said he’s hopeful the county and Binswanger will find a new tenant by the early 2020. If not, the county may have to come to grips with a smaller budget.

“For me, that’s a lot a money,” Porter said. “When we look at the budget, [$104,000] looks like a lot of money. Every dollar adds up… You can’t say it’s a drop in the bucket and move on.”

He added that if Binswanger is unable to find a new tenant to move in by the time Lumber Liquidators leaves, that could mean reducing funding for other services.

In that case, it would be up to new County Administrator Scott Stevens, his staff and the Board of Supervisors to decide their priorities for the county budget.

Porter and Faris agreed the facility will fit the needs of a manufacturing and industrial business, and Porter said it’s possible the new tenants could even bring in more tax revenue to the county, depending on how they use the site.

“The office area is a fairly large component of space that will appeal more to a company looking for a regional office presence combined with manufacturing,” Faris said. “That’s the nice thing about it. It can appeal to distributions and manufacturing equally well. The more things you can be to more people the more chances you have [of finding a new tenant].”

The facility opened as a John Deere manufacturing plant in 2000 — hence its address at 3000 John Deere Road.

Faris said the the facility can appeal to several different types of tenants because of its design.

John Deere manufactured its Gator line of utility vehicles in the facility before moving out in 2004. The company conducted metalworking, welding and painting in the building, and the capability for such uses remains.

To facilitate the heavy industrial work, the building was designed with an unusually high ceiling — nearly 24 feet where it meets the side walls — and is fully air conditioned, which is not always the case for buildings of its size, Faris said.

It also has modern lighting and the utilities to support heavy industry. Due to its size, it also has plenty of room for storing manufactured goods.

“It’s definitely the best building of its type and size in the region,” Faris said. “There’s a lot of infrastructure you would not find at a warehouse.”

That’s why Faris is optimistic Binswanger will find a new tenant for the site in short order.

“You got to find the right user for Williamsburg, obviously, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll need something we don’t have,” Faris said.

Location, Location, Location

Another lure for a large industrial user is the site’s placement on the center of the Peninsula.

Roughly an hour away from both Richmond and Norfolk, Faris said the plant has immediate access to Interstate 64 and is a fairly “straight shot” to Interstate 95 and Atlantic ports. That makes it possible for any major manufacturer to efficiently and economically ship their goods.

Even better, Faris said the site is designed for expansion. Much of the property is undeveloped green space that presents no barrier to adding floor space to the existing building.

“The site is designed to accommodate the doubling of the size of the facility, which is important because any user inevitably wants to be able to double the building,” Faris said. “Somebody was thinking ahead back in the John Deere days.”

He added, “I would hope someone would come to town and want to expand.”

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