A deal is done for Hyundai and Kia auto manufacturers to bring a large vehicle-import business to Philadelphia’s waterfront, starting with up to 150,000 cars a year.
The auto-finishing facility for Hyundai and Kia vehicles is expected to create at least 270 full-time jobs. The operation will start in June on about 90 acres owned by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority near the Walt Whitman Bridge.
Gov. Rendell is to announce the deal at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The Inquirer reported in February that it was in the works.
“This will be over 102 vessels a year,” said Boise Butler, president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1291, whose longshoremen will off-load the cars from ships at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in South Philadelphia. “It’s exciting news.”
The authority in October entered into a lease with Philly Ro-Ro Partners, a Bellmawr, N.J., company serving as the middleman, to bring the car-finishing import business to Pier 98 Annex, which is a parking lot at Columbus Boulevard and Oregon Avenue.
“Hyundai and Kia are projecting 150,000 vehicles to be imported through the Port of Philadelphia to start,” said Philly Ro-Ro partner Gerard McHugh. “And . . . they are both growing companies.”
The car site will also include two nearby lots, known as the Whiskey and Savage Yards.
Other officials connected with the project did not want to speak Tuesday ahead of Rendell’s announcement but confirmed the deal.
After the new vehicles are removed from ships, they will be driven down the street to the southwest corner of Columbus and Oregon for finishing touches and to be stored until sent, mostly by truck, to dealer showrooms. Some cars might move out by rail.
Philly Ro-Ro is the development company that identified Philadelphia as the site for the new operation. Glovis America Inc., which provides logistics and transport assistance to the manufacturers, awarded a contract to manage the operation to Global Auto Processing Services, McHugh said. The vehicles will come from Hyundai and Kia assembly plants overseas.
Greenwich Terminals L.L.C., owned by the Holt family, will be the stevedore company unloading the vessels. Holt will also provide and manage the labor for Glovis at Pier 98 Annex.
The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, as the land owner, will receive rent and a per-car rate from both Holt and Philly Ro-Ro. The authority will invest $1 million in capital funds to upgrade the site.
The deal had been held up over labor issues with Teamsters locals.
“The good news is it was worked out,” said the ILA’s Butler, who is a PRPA board member.
Longshoremen will drive the cars to Pier 98 Annex, where Teamsters Local 107 will process and check in the cars. “Sometimes they will do maintenance work to the cars, it could be a paint job, a touch-up job, cleaning, detailing,” Butler said.
Philly Ro-Ro has told port officials that Hyundai would like to consolidate its East Coast operations, now in Newark, N.J., and Baltimore, in Philadelphia.
Port officials expect the car facility to be operational in June. The site will need improvements, including creation of paint booths, car washes, and a parts warehouse.
Hyundai, an automaker known for affordable, quality vehicles, has expanded its market share in the United States, from 4.8 percent in 2007 to 7.1 percent in 2009, according to data compiled by J.D. Power & Associates.
With only two assembly plants in the United States, the automaker relies on importing many of the vehicles that end up in U.S. showrooms.
Pier 98 Annex was once before, more than 10 years ago, a car-finishing facility, Pasha Auto Warehousing, which imported Volkswagens.