The South Bend Tribune reported that Elkhart-based Lippert executives announced Friday (April 4) that the company has entered into an agreement to lease the massive warehouse at Olive and Sample streets for 12 1/2 years. They plan to add hundreds of jobs.
The company, which supplies a wide range of components to the RV, manufactured housing, bus and other industries, will consolidate its aftermarket parts sales and customer support services at the 530,000 square feet building.
Lippert’s plans to expand into South Bend were revealed last month at a meeting of the city’s Redevelopment Commission.
It was welcome news for city officials and business leaders, who have tried to find a new occupant for A.J. Wright’s massive warehouse since the discount retailer closed it in February 2011, putting almost 700 people out of work. Holladay Properties bought the building with a partner in 2012 and renamed it the Interstate 80 Commerce Center.
Lippert will lease the entire building — which is large enough to cover nine football fields — but it will sublet a portion of it to Bimbo Bakeries’ logistics company. Bimbo has a bakery in Elkhart.
The two companies plan to employ a total of 180 people at the site by the end of this year with wages starting at $12.50 per hour.
Lippert envisions taking over the entire facility in five or six years, and adding another 200 jobs there during the next 10 years. The property also has enough land for an expansion that would enable a large-scale manufacturing operation that could employ as many as 700 people.
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