An area importer will be moving his children's furniture business and its 40 employees to the Port of Jacksonville, unless he can obtain Seminole County's approval to build a 100,000-square-foot warehouse on a vacant parcel near his Sanford headquarters.
Anthony Lupo, CEO of Discovery World Furniture, wants to put a metal building and loading docks on a nine-acre parcel at 2995 Stonewall Place in Sanford, just 3.4 miles from where his 95,000-square-foot headquarters is now based.
Lupo would consolidate on the new site two 25,000-square-foot warehouses he currently leases in the area, and use the extra 50,000 square feet of space for expansion.
Glen Moller, head of Discovery World's development arm, is general contractor. The cost of developing the new property has not been determined, nor has a timetable. The job will seek subcontractors once it is ready to go, Lupo said.
Lupo estimates 20 to 25 Discovery World employees would be hired initially once the new site is ready.
If and when the 100,000-square-foot building is completed, Lupo is looking at a 49,500-square-foot addition for light woodworking manufacturing and assembly. A potential phase three would add two large concrete pads.
The property he wants to buy is owned by Joseph R. Minnix of Winter Springs who, property records show, paid $2 million for it in December 2009.
Lupo's company is involved in what is known as clean industry -- heavy work that does not impact the environment. Once furniture pieces arrive in Sanford from the port in Jacksonville they are put together and shipped wholesale to retailers.
Discovery World Furniture's annual revenue is roughly $20 million, and its biggest customer is Badcock & Moore, where its sells in all 370 of the company's stores. Discovery World also sells through stores east of the Mississippi.
Seminole planners, hearing Lupo's proposal for the first time Wednesday, engaged in a give-and-take with him, explaining what he would need to help make the project a go, including proper drainage, lighting and sufficient access roads.
The building itself would be specialized, with 24-foot-high ceilings to accommodate 18-foot-high pallets full of boxed furniture parts.
Lupo said his company imports 400 cargo containers a year. And the busiest time is not Christmas. It is now, as parents spend tax refund checks on furniture for their youngsters, he said.
For Lupo, it would not be a major hardship going to Jacksonville. It's more convenient to move cargo from the port, rents are lower and he lives in Palm Coast. It takes him about an hour to get to Sanford each day, a trip repeated as he heads home. Jacksonville is about 20 minutes further from his home.
But "it is about the employees," Lupo said. Each Sanford staff member has been with the company 10 years on average, and he said he does not want to lose them.
Lupo will know more in the coming days. His lawyers are in the midst of conducting due diligence in anticipation of making an offer on the land.