Six weeks ago, one of the region's newest corporate players -- Chevron -- announced agreements to acquire land for a potential regional headquarters. Now one of the more established local players -- Dick's Sporting Goods -- is gearing up to expand its own corporate footprint.
Dick's has reached an agreement with the Allegheny County Airport Authority to lease about 73 acres at the Northfield Commerce Park near Pittsburgh International Airport "for possible expansion of our corporate campus."
The Findlay-based retailer's deal is the latest example of an upsurge of interest in the Parkway West office market, which is benefiting from the need for space by energy companies involved in Marcellus Shale drilling.
But the Dick's deal shows there are other factors at work as well.
Under its agreement, approved Wednesday by the airport authority board, Dick's has committed to constructing a 180,000-square-foot building at the publicly owned site in Findlay just east of its current headquarters, said Randy Forister, the airport authority's senior director of development.
The building is to be completed by December 2015, he said.
It marks the latest expansion for Dick's, which opened a new $150 million, seven-story corporate center in Findlay three years ago.
"Dick's has been a great corporate partner in the region and for them to have the opportunity to expand in the area I think is good for everyone," Mr. Forister said.
Although Dick's committed to constructing one building at the site, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he expects the retailer to grow beyond that eventually. "My sense is that they're at some point in the future looking at having the opportunity to expand. They see growth in their future, which is very promising," he said.
Dick's had very little to say about its latest endeavor, releasing a statement at the airport authority board meeting, saying it had "agreed in principle on business terms to lease ... approximately 73 acres at Northfield Commerce Park for possible expansion of our corporate campus." A spokesman declined further comment.
Neither Dick's nor the airport authority said whether the new building means more jobs, but Mr. Fitzgerald, who has been involved in the talks with the company, said, "I think you can anticipate that they are building the space with the need for additional staff."
The Northfield Commerce Park is part of about 10,000 acres of county-owned land that surrounds the airport. It is one of a number of sites, all managed by the airport authority, that have been prepared for development over the last decade.
Dick's initial lease for the 73 acres will run 25 years. The authority intends to charge various lease rates, but Mr. Forister declined to disclose those, saying the agreement has yet to be signed.
The retailer currently occupies a 670,000-square-foot building in Findlay that features its own cafeteria, a full-sized gym, a running track and a basketball court among the amenities. The site also includes a hangar for Dick's corporate jets with access to the runways.
Perhaps the need for more corporate space should not come as a surprise, given the company's aggressive expansion on the retail side. At its annual meeting last week, Dick's set a target for 1,100 stores in the U.S., more than double its current number. It also has been pushing new prototypes, such as running specialty stores, including one in Shadyside, and a new Field & Stream concept set to debut in Cranberry later this year.
"They're an aggressive company. They're on top of the market. It's a good fit for them to be where they are," Mr. Fitzgerald said.
Dick's growth coincides with a resurgence of interest in the Parkway West corridor.
Global energy giant Chevron reached an agreement last month to purchase 61 acres of land in Moon, including the site of a Kmart targeted for closing next month, for a possible regional headquarters.
In addition, a half dozen new office buildings are either in the planning or development stages within the corridor, including a five-story, 130,000-square-foot building off the Montour Run interchange in Moon near the Chevron site and a 45,000- to 50,000-square-foot building at the site of the former Greater Pittsburgh International Airport terminal.
Furthermore, Continental Real Estate Cos. and Chaska Property Advisors of Cranberry are working on their third office building in less than a year in Moon adjacent to Cherrington business park.
Rich Beynon, president of the Beynon & Co. real estate firm, said the resurgence is in part the result of other areas, such as Southpointe and Cranberry, filling up as well as the desire by energy companies to be close to the areas in which they are drilling.
He said he expects continued growth in the corridor over the next five years. The Dick's expansion, he said, is "just a great sign and it shows the strength of the economy out there." He added that as companies build new space, it frees up so-called second generation space that can be used to attract others into the market.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262. First Published June 12, 2013 12:45 AM