Thursday, May 3, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 5:39 p.m.
Featured image: An architectural rendering of the proposed SMC Management trucking facility at 1001 S. St. Charles Rd. in Maywood. | Forza
The former owner of one of the largest independent trucking companies in Chicago is starting another trucking company from scratch in Maywood on village-owned land that has been vacant for decades.
During a regular meeting on May 1, the Maywood Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to the sale and redevelopment of property at 1001 S. St. Charles Rd. in Maywood. The property was appraised at around $285,000, according to Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr.
SMC Management will purchase the property for $250,000 in order to build a 6,500- to 7,500-square foot facility that will house offices and a service garage, “with a tractor and trailer wash bay, along with an on-site diesel fuel business,” according to the agreement.
The remainder of the site will be used as a secure trucking area featuring a fully paved yard large enough to park 100 semi-trailers and trailers.
Jim Apa, who owns SMC Management, said that many of the trucks will haul recycled and excavated materials, and waste products, to and from construction sites, among other areas.
Apa had presented a pitch for the St. Charles Road property back in April of 2016, when he still owned Fore Transportation Inc., a trucking company based in Harvey. At the time, Apa wanted to purchase the Maywood property to house Fore’s inventory of refrigerated trailers.
Apa sold Fore to Universal Logistics Holdings, Inc., a publicly traded company, earlier this year for a cash purchase price of $34.9 million.
At the time of the purchase, Jeff Rogers, Universal’s CEO, said in a press release that the acquisition of Fore represented “a first step in our renewed ambitions to acquire and integrate best-in-class companies.”
During a phone interview on Thursday, Apa said that the purchase involved a non-compete clause that prohibits him from opening a freight-related trucking company for five years. His trucking operation in Maywood, Apa said, will be premised on stone and waste hauling.
Apa said that talks to acquire the Maywood property two years ago had stalled because he was too involved in his old business.
“Now that I’ve sold my business, I can dedicate the time to grow [SMC Management],” he said. “At the time, it would not have been fair to open [SMC] if I couldn’t dedicate 100 percent of my time to it. I can do that now, which will ensure that the project will be a success.”
By the time Apa sold the company, Fore Transportation had grown into one of the largest independent trucking companies in the Chicago area, with more than 150 trucks and total operating revenues of approximately $32.3 million in 2017, according to a statement released by Universal Logistics in February.
The Maywood site, Apa added, is roughly 10 minutes away from his home in Elmwood Park — an added bonus.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the village board also unanimously approved a resolution granting Apa a Class 6B property tax incentive, since the site is located within the St. Charles TIF.
With the tax break, Apa’s newly constructed building will be assessed at 10 percent of its market value, rather than 25 percent of market value, for the first 10 years. The property will be assessed at 15 percent and 20 percent in the two years after that 10-year period has passed.
Apa said that he anticipates hiring around 50 employees, including mechanics, office clerks and more than 40 truckers. He said that, barring any obstacles, he plans to break ground on construction in August and establish partial occupancy by November.
“The property will be done no later than next spring,” he said, adding that the only barriers he fears could hold up the process are zoning and environmental issues, such as storm water retention.
A visualization of the proposed SMC Management trucking site to be developed at 1001 S. St. Charles Rd. in Maywood. | Forza
“According to a conservative timeline, the trucks should be on the streets by this time next year,” Apa said.
During a May 2 TIF hearing, Apa said that he hopes to do for Maywood through SMC Management what he did for Harvey through Fore. He said that Maywood stands to gain an estimated $300,000 in incremental sales tax revenue from the sell of trucks and parts on the property within the first year.
He also said that he’ll prioritize Maywood residents when filling the roughly 50 full-time positions he anticipates the business needing.
“Ten years ago in Harvey, I purchased and developed a property in a blighted area,” Apa said. “I sold that property for almost $9 million and created almost 300 full-time jobs. Eighty percent of the employees were from Harvey — truck drivers, mechanics, office staff, you name it.”
When Apa presented his proposal to the village back in 2016, some board members expressed concerns about how the trucks would affect the quality of life — concerns that were brought up again during Tuesday’s TIF hearing.
“Our Fifth Avenue corridor has got to be dealt with and more truck traffic is the least thing we need,” said Trustee Ron Rivers two years ago.
Apa, allaying Rivers’s concerns about his trucks possibly clogging already congested, truck-heavy 1stand 5th Avenues, said that his drivers would take “as many state routes as possible.” That would mean hewing to state-owned corridors like Lake Street and Mannheim Road, he said.
The site at 1001 W. St. Charles Rd. has attracted multiple suitors over the last several years — all of them transportation entities.
Last December, MIT Express, a domestic shipping company based in Broadview, proposed building a domestic transportation facility at the site. Those talks, however, mysteriously broke down.
And during Tuesday’s TIF hearing, Ricardo Page, a Maywood real estate broker, presented a last-minute, alternative proposal for the St. Charles Road site on behalf of a client. Board members, however, did not seriously entertain Page’s plan, which the broker said he submitted the day of the hearing.
“I think that this is a perfect fit,” said Trustee Isiah Brandon, 32, referring to Apa’s proposal, during the May 2 hearing.
“The developer has presented enough information for me to get behind and support this. Based upon that evidence, I will be in full support of developing on that space that has been vacant for over decades,” Brandon said before a slight pause.
“As long as you’ve been on the earth,” quipped Trustee Henderson Yarbrough. VFP
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that SMC projected $300,000 in new property tax revenue, instead of new incremental sales tax revenue, for Maywood within the first year of its operating. This article has since been updated. VFP regrets the error.
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