$400 million distribution facility planned for DeKalb

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kraft heinz decalb rendering

Judy Lamelza

Special to Chicago Construction News

Chicago-based Kraft Heinz recently announced plans to construct a $400 million distribution center in DeKalb. Scheduled to open in 2025, the center will employ over 150 individuals, contributing to the commercial construction industry’s thriving job market.

“We are very excited that Kraft Heinz will bring its worldwide reputation for quality products and services to our community,” said Cohen Barnes, Mayor of DeKalb. “The construction and post-construction employment opportunities they bring will have a positive and lasting impact on our residents, and this positive impact is compounded by the additional diversification of our tax base, which will spur further interest in DeKalb for many years to come.”

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the proposed 775,000-sq. ft. warehouse will be located in the ChicagoWest Business Center, a 1,200-acre business park about 65 miles west of Chicago. This strategic location, replete with rail access, enables Kraft Heinz to expedite product delivery to retail and food service customers, enhancing the efficiency of its supply chain.

Kraft Heinz’s executive vice president, Carlos Abrams-Rivera, highlights the distribution center’s pivotal role in handling over 60 per cent of the company’s dry goods in North America. This development underscores the revolutionary thinking of their supply chain teams, resulting in improved efficiency and agility in the company’s operations.

“As we continue on our journey to lead the future of food, our talented North America teams and collaborative external partners are innovating at a rapid pace to expand our supply chain capabilities,” he said. “The DeKalb distribution center is expected to play a critical role in our larger distribution strategy, moving more than 60 percent of Kraft Heinz dry goods in North America through our automated facilities.

“It’s a testament to the dynamic, out-of-the-box thinking of our supply chain teams whose work enables us to operate with greater efficiency and agility every day.”

Joining the ranks of Ferrara Candy, Meta, and Amazon, Kraft Heinz will be another reputable name in the industrial park. The park is being developed by Dallas-based Trammell Crow, while the project’s general contracting will be undertaken by Oak Brook-based Krusinski Construction.

Chicago’s industrial market has witnessed a surge in warehouse deals in recent years, although the growth has started to plateau in 2023. Major firms such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and Unilever are leasing large-scale industrial buildings to optimize their distribution centers. In this landscape, the Kraft Heinz project continues the trend and enhances competitive positioning.

One of the largest consumer package goods (CPG) national distribution facilities in North America, Kraft Heinz’s planned center will incorporate cutting-edge automation technology. The center’s design will aid in reducing the company’s environmental footprint while ensuring a speedy and efficient distribution of its products.

The Kraft Heinz project will generate opportunities not only during construction but also in the subsequent operational phase. The DeKalb Mayor and the DeKalb County Development Corporation Executive Director lauded the initiative, which will “elevate DeKalb’s position as a food processing and distribution hub.”

The facility will be equipped with a 24/7 automated storage and retrieval system, which can manage double the volume for Kraft Heinz customers. The center will distribute over 60% of the company’s food service business and approximately 30% of all dry goods, making it a key player in Kraft Heinz’s North American supply chain.

This state-of-the-art facility in DeKalb is set to enhance the speed and efficiency of product delivery, increase employment opportunities, and establish a precedent for environmentally conscious design in the commercial sector. The project’s contribution to the ongoing transformation of the ChicagoWest Business Center into a thriving industrial park further underscores its significance.

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