A General Electric Co. appliance distributor plans to operate an 800,000-square-foot warehouse being built in Harford.
The warehouse will be the largest built in the county when complete by the end of next year.
The distribution center is planned for 42 acres in the Riverside Business Park in Belcamp and will replace a GE warehouse in Howard County, said R.W. Chip Keeling, spokesman for GE's appliance division in Louisville, Ky.
Work crews broke ground at the site earlier this month, Keeling said.
The center should be complete by September 1991 and operating by December 1991.
Keeling declined to name GE's distributor because GE has not finalized the contract with the company.
The contractor will use the warehouse to distribute GE refrigerators, washers, dryers, electric ranges, air conditioners, dishwashers and other major appliances, Keeling said.
The distributor will ship the appliances to retail stores in New England, Maryland and parts of New York and Pennsylvania, Keeling said. The spokesman said he does not know how many outlets the warehouse will serve or how many appliances will pass through there annually.
Keeling declined to specify how many workers the distributor would hire, but noted, "I can tell you for a facility this size it's usually 100."
Neither GE nor the contractor will own the warehouse initially.
Instead, D. Benvenuti Properties Inc., the Sacramento, Calif., development company building the warehouse, will own it for at least 10 years. Company president Daniel Benvenuti Jr. declined to say how much his company paid Riverside developer Bata Land Co. for the land. A deed for the sale has not been recorded yet in the Harford County Courthouse.
There was conflicting information about whether GE or the contractor would lease the building, which would have more space than any other in Harford.
Benvenuti said GE would lease the building for 10 years and have two options to extend the lease for five year periods.
GE spokesman Keeling said he believes the distributor -- not GE -- would lease the warehouse.
While many companies run their own warehouses, GE prefers to let experienced contractors manage its distribution facilities, Keeling said.
"We're finding our job is to manufacture high-quality appliances."
The appliance maker has used contractor distributors at some of its other facilities, Keeling said. "We found that works very good for us and helps us increase our availability of product to the customers."
Benvenuti said his company looked at a few other sites in the Baltimore area, including in Harford, for the distribution center. He said GE decided on the site because of its rail and highway access.
A CSX Transportation rail line serves the business park and Interstate 95 and U.S. 40 are nearby.
GE ships most -- 55 percent -- of its appliances to its distribution centers via rail, Keeling said. All the appliances would be shipped from the distribution center to retailer via truck, he added.
"What's going to be unique is the rail access is completely external to the warehouse" at the Riverside building, Keeling said.
At GE's current distribution center in Columbia, the train pulls into the building, taking up about 200,000 square feet of the building's 1 million square feet, he said.
GE announced in May 1989 it would close its Columbia appliance distribution center as part of a nationwide consolidation of its warehouses, Keeling said. GE is also closing its electric range manufacturing plant in Columbia and shifting those operations to LaFayette, Ky.