Plans to Expand a Logistics Hub in Central Calif.? It’s Wonderful

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Kern County, Calif., is poised to become a global logistics and distribution hub — and California’s wealthiest family is leading the charge.

Billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who together own The Wonderful Company, want to effectively double the size of their 1,625-acre, master-planned industrial campus, dubbed Wonderful Industrial Park, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles and adjacent to the town of Shafter, Calif. 

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The Resnicks, who own tens of thousands of acres of almond and pistachio orchards in California’s Central Valley, plan to clear 1,800 of those acres near Shafter to make way for the new development, according to the Los Angeles Times. The company has submitted a rezoning application for that purpose with the City of Shafter. 

The industrial park has been in development since the mid-1990s, and Wonderful purchased it in 2011. It has since become one of the Golden State’s logistics powerhouses, with more than 10 million square feet of industrial space currently operational, plus another 16 million entitled for development. It also houses distribution centers for major Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, Walmart and Target

Aware of the problems caused by other mega-developments devouring small communities elsewhere in California, such as in places like Bloomington or Fontana in the Inland Empire, Wonderful officials told the L.A. Times that the company plans to invest millions of dollars in new infrastructure that could alleviate the effects of its expansion in Shafter. 

That includes working with the local government to create a new six-lane highway that would help mitigate traffic and trucking congestion in the town of roughly 20,200, providing relief for the already bogged-down Highway 99, as well as at least $120 million toward a new inland railroad terminal, which the company hopes to complete in Spring 2025. Both projects are in need of multiple sets of approvals, however.

Wonderful’s presence in Shafter, while perhaps a bit of an eyesore, has been a boon to the local economy there, generating about 10,000 warehouse, trucking and other logistics jobs, according to the company. The industrial park’s expansion could ultimately prop up as many as 50,000 jobs once completed, company leaders told the L.A. Times

If its rezoning plans are approved, Wonderful also reportedly agreed to create a fund for Shafter’s local park district, wherein its warehouse tenants would pay 2 cents per square foot per month toward enhancing the local community’s sports, arts and cultural programs. 

Representatives for Wonderful declined to comment. Shafter city planning officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Southern California has become renowned for its industrial real estate market, with the Inland Empire region in particular now the largest in the nation with over 717 million square feet of warehouse, distribution and logistics space. Yet the volatile economy and high interest rates have slowed sales and leasing recently, with the amount of square footage trading hands last year falling by 32 percent and total dollar volume on the sales that did go through dropping by roughly 44 percent compared to the previous year, according to a report by brokerage firm NAI Capital earlier this year.  

Nick Trombola can be reached at ntrombola@commercialobserver.com.