Plans by FedEx to relocate its ground operations from western Maspeth to Long Island City are being warmly received in the borough.
The international shipping giant will be moving from its site off Grand Avenue and 47th Street to a new distribution center that will be built on Borden Avenue in LIC by spring 2013.
The new $56 million facility will be located in the same block that is being vacated by Fresh Direct in the next two years.
A separate FedEx express shipping center on the corner of Maurice Avenue and 55th Drive in Maspeth is not included in the switch.
In an email on Tuesday, FedEx Ground spokesman David Westrick said the new site will be about 140,000 square feet.
“It will be larger and contain more automated package sortation systems than an existing station now serving the area, allowing us to continue to meet and exceed customer demands in the region,” Westrick said.
“The site was chosen because of the ease of access to major highways, its proximity to customers’ distribution centers and a strong local community workforce for recruiting employees,” he added.
Westrick said 120 people are employed at the Grand Avenue Maspeth site, and that all will be offered the opportunity to transfer to Long Island City.
He said they would hire more people as necessary to meet any increasing demands down the road.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, in a statement issued by her office, praised the company’s decision, particularly in light of the 1,600 full- and 600 part-time jobs that will be lost in the neighborhood when Fresh Direct pulls out and moves to the Bronx.
“FedEx will hopefully help local businesses to recoup their losses,” Marshall said.
JetBlue, which is moving its corporate offices into Long Island City from Forest Hills next month, is expected to bring about 1,000 jobs with it.
Although Marshall added that the Long Island City site already is zoned for this type of operation, she said the project has to come up for community review and approvals.
As for the impact on Maspeth, the borough president was upbeat.
“We do not believe that this large industrial site will remain vacant for long,” she said. “Our feeling is that it will provide an opportunity, not become a liability.”
Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Valley Civic Association, also believes that all parties, including Maspeth, could benefit from the move.
“It’s not as though those jobs are leaving the city,” Holden said. “I don’t think that would be a big deal if the jobs are moving just a couple of miles away.”
And like Marshall, Holden said the existing site likely will draw some serious interest should FedEx decide to lease or sell it.
“And you might get a business with less truck traffic, which would not be hard because FedEx is very reliant on its trucks for deliveries,” he said. “If they move away, they have a very attractive facility. You could get another good company in there and Maspeth gets less truck traffic.”
FedEx owns the Grand Avenue site, and Westrick said they have not yet decided what will be done there.
The new site will be developed and owned by SunCap Property Group LLC of Charlotte, NC, and the Lexington Realty Trust. FedEx Ground will lease the property. The general contractors will be Aurora Contractors of Ronkonkoma, LI.
Neither the Long Island City Partnership nor the Maspeth Industrial Business Association responded to requests for comment on this story by the Chronicle’s deadline.