By Alexander Dworkowitz
The Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of New York plans to close its operations in Long Island City and to move its distributing operations and offices to College Point by the new year, a company official said.
PepsiCo currently owns a 19.5-acre Long Island City facility, which runs along the East River from Anable Basin in the north down to 47th Road and leases it to the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. for distribution.
The Long Island City facility is set to be sold to the Rockrose Development Corp. for $25 to $40 million, said Jon McMillan, director of planning for Rockrose. Rockrose plans to give the land to the Queens West Development Corporation, a conglomeration of city and state agencies working on developing the site along the East River that will replace PepsiCo’s facilities. Queens West will then lease out some of the land to Rockrose, which it will develop.
At stake in the transition is the giant Pepsi neon sign, which stands atop the facility and is visible from Manhattan. PepsiCo, which is a separate entity from the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co., demanded that Rockrose keep the sign visible. According to McMillan, the sign will be moved to a building slightly to the south for three years, after which it will be transferred to a permanent location.
“It will be a tad lower,” said McMillan, speaking of the sign’s permanent location. “It will sit on the ground in front of a building. We are going to design it in a way to incorporate it into the public park,” which is part of the Queens West Project.
Bob Sherman, vice president of operations at Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of New York, said he expects a smooth transition from Long Island City to College Point, saying distribution services will continue without a glitch.
The Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of New York has three factories in New York City. A facility in Brooklyn bottles and distributes about half of the city’s Pepsi. The current factory in College Point bottles the remaining half, which is then brought to the Long Island City facility for distribution.
With the closing of the LIC facilities, the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co.’s bottling and distribution will be confined to Brooklyn and College Point.
In total, the company distributes 20 million cases of Pepsi a year, which translates into 250 million bottles and cans of Pepsi that are distributed throughout the city.
After Dec. 28, the Long Island City facility should be completely shut down, and both bottling and distribution will take place in College Point.
According to Sherman, six new buildings in College Point will be used by the company for distribution on 15th Avenue from 117th to 119th streets. The buildings once housed house LWF and Sikorsky, two airplane manufacturing companies.
Unlike its Long Island City arrangement with PepsiCo, the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. owns the College Point facilities. The company’s current bottling factory in College Point is located at 117-02 15th Ave. and employ 125 people.
The new offices and facilities will employ an additional 250 people, many of whom are transferring from Long Island City, said Sherman.
Sherman said he expects the bottling company to remain in College Point indefinitely.
“They’re terrific, they really are,” he said of the people of College Point. “A few workers here are local people, something we encourage.”
Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, said she thinks the facilities are good for College Point, but she has her reservations.
“We always like to see industry stay,” she said. “We hope that the truck drivers will stick to their designated routes and not impact the residential community.”
Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at [email protected] or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.