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Dr Pepper buys land for bottling plant, distribution center

The soft-drink maker plans to open a $120-million facility in Victorville in spring 2010 that is expected to employ about 200 people.

March 05, 2009|Roger Vincent

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. has bought 53 acres in Victorville, where it will build a large-scale bottling plant and distribution center, the company said Wednesday.

The Texas-based soft-drink maker will start work shortly on a $120-million facility to produce such beverages as 7UP, A&W root beer, Sunkist orange soda and Hawaiian Punch for customers in the Southwest. After the plant opens in spring 2010, it is expected to pump out as many as 40 million cases of drinks a year.

Dr Pepper paid more than $9 million for the site in Southern California Logistics Centre, a former Air Force base that is being turned into a 2,500-acre freight transportation hub near U.S. 395 and the 15 Freeway that is also served by air and rail, said Brian Parno, vice president of Stirling Capital Investments. Stirling is the master developer of the manufacturing and distribution center, which is being built on the former site of George Air Force Base. Other businesses there include Rubbermaid, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, FedEx, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and M&M/Mars.

The Inland Empire is a distribution hub for some of the world's largest companies, but its long-running industrial real estate boom has gone bust in some markets. After years of high occupancy and rapid construction of cargo hubs, immense spaces now stand empty. Some fell victim to the collapse of retailers such as Mervyns and Wickes Furniture; others are vacant because the huge national falloff in demand for consumer goods has meant fewer imports and less need for storing and shipping them.

Victorville has an industrial property vacancy rate of more than 30%, according to real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.

Dr Pepper said it couldn't just rent an empty warehouse because it needs a facility built to its particular food-processing specifications.

The Dr Pepper plant will consist of 550,000 square feet of warehouse space and a 300,000-square-foot factory with up to six manufacturing lines to produce drinks, said Larry Young, chief executive of Dr Pepper. The new plant will employ about 200 people, he said.

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roger.vincent@latimes.com

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