In June 2010 The Hershey Company announced project “Next Century,” a modernization program that would result in an investment of $200-225 million plant expansion of the existing West Hershey facility and approximately $50-75 million in upgrades to distribution and administrative facilities located in Hershey, PA. Part of the project involved ceasing production at the original 100-year-old factory, and transitioning to the company’s West Hershey facility, which is said to be the most technologically advanced chocolate factory in the world. Now the big question around town is what will happen to the historic factory site?
The original 24-acre factory site was sold to Net Lease Capital Advisors for $50 million in 2011. The property was then leased to The Hershey Company for 40 years. The company plans to renovate a portion of the space as offices for more than 1,000 employees. Embracing a more sustainable approach to business, the company is targeting a LEED Gold level certification. Some architectural design modifications include infusing the previously windowless building with daylight through new glazing and atrium space and incorporating sheltered walkways.
Plans for use of the remaining space are in the works. Last week a petition was filed by The Hershey Company to demolish a large portion of the original plant site, causing mixed reviews in the community. Some local citizens are excited for the future development, while others want to preserve this historic site. Derry Township Design and Review Board will meet with The Hershey Company November 5, 2012 to hear the company’s petition for demolition and plans for the future site.
Under the terms of the sale, a portion of the factory is protected from demolition, including the iconic twin smoke stacks and Hershey Cocoa bushes. Rumors are circulating around town about potential plans for the site; some speculations include condos, shops, offices, or a hotel. For a town whose identity and pride is so intertwined to The Hershey Company, public concerns are sure to be raised. The Hershey Company has made no comments.
What are some examples of factories that have been retrofitted or renovated in your community?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources. Photos by author.