Two years after Frito-Lay put the brakes on its plan to build a mega-fulfillment center across from the Poinciana SunRail station, the company is rebooting the $180 million project with plans to open in 2024.
Osceola County Commissioners voted Monday to reauthorize the economic incentive package with Frito-Lay parent company, PepsiCo, that includes ad valorem tax rebates for 10 years. The tax abatement is 100% for the first five years of the agreement, beginning in 2025, and 50% for years 2030-2034. PepsiCo has owned the 75-acre parcel at 1496 S. Poinciana Boulevard since 2007.
In exchange for the tax rebates, the company agreed to invest a minimum of $180 million on buildings and equipment and create 180 full-time jobs paying at least 115% of the county median wage, which equates to just over $43,000. The county will refund taxes paid on real property and equipment — but not on the land — each year after the company submits a compliance report documenting the number of employees and their wages.
The terms of the agreement have changed since the project was first announced in 2018. The building size has grown from 286,000 square feet to 355,000 square feet, adding $50 million to the development budget. The company said the expanded building would serve both retail and eCommerce with more customized product portfolios.
In the original agreement, the snack food giant was required to employ 200 full-time workers at 150% of the average wage, or $56,193. At the time, company officials said they planned to start construction in 2019 and open in 2021.
“Since the time of the initial announcement, PepsiCo has experienced significant growth in product lines, which led to prioritizing production projects,” a company spokeswoman told GrowthSpotter. “The recently announced new Gatorade line being installed is an example of this growth in production. Due to current company priorities, we are reactivating this project, and it will be in operational by early 2024.”
County Manager Don Fisher and Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington could not be reached for comment. Osceola County Economic Development Manager David Rodriguez told GrowthSpotter he could not comment on the agreement and claimed to have no knowledge of the deal that was approved by the county in 2018.
Quaker Foods, another PepsiCo division, bought the land over a decade ago for $9 million. The property was transferred to Frito-Lay in April 2019 at a $9.55 million valuation.
PepsiCo already has a large presence in the Poinciana Industrial Park, with a Gatorade plant just north of U.S. 17-92 that employs 150 people and operates 24/7.
Frito-Lay makes some of the most popular snacks available in the marketplace today. These include Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos tortilla chips, Cheetos snacks, Tostitos tortilla chips and branded dips, Sun Chips multigrain snacks and Fritos corn chips. The company also makes, markets, distributes and sells Sabra refrigerated dips and spreads.
The company operates more than 30 manufacturing plants across the U.S. and Canada and employs 66,000 people. Eleven of those plants have an automated distribution center like the one that will be built on Poinciana Boulevard, but this will be the first that is co-located with Gatorade.
It’s likely the building will be designed with a large solar array to comply with PepsiCo’s stated goal to source 100% renewable electricity across all of its company-owned and controlled operations globally by 2030. The company is also replacing its entire fleet with vehicles that run on natural gas sourced from renewable sources.
“With the devastating effects of climate change being felt around the world, and the global food system under significant strain, accelerated action is needed,” Chief Sustainability Officer Jim Andrew said last October. “We know the responsibility that comes with our size and scale, so transitioning PepsiCo’s global business operations to 100% renewable electricity is the right step forward to deliver meaningful impact as we continue to advance our sustainability agenda.”
Development activity has also picked up in the area surrounding the new plant since the project was announced. Pulte Homes and Hanover Family Builders are currently selling homes in Cypress Hammocks, a 502-home subdivision just north of the site.
In early 2020, Osceola County acquired 82 acres just north of the SunRail station from Taylor Morrison Homes. The county paid $8.9 million for the property with the intention of bringing affordable housing to the location. The county engaged Rj Whidden and Associates almost a year ago to masterplan the site and selected Birdsong Housing Partners last October as the affordable housing developer. So far no plans have been submitted to the county.
The School District of Osceola County is under contract to buy 61 acres just north of the county-owned property for a new K-8 school.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article gave the wrong year for the opening of the fulfillment center. It has been corrected and updated with comments from the company.