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Penske Truck Leasing opens at corporate park after nixing retail plans

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Penske Truck Leasing opened a rental operation this month at a building owned by developer Michael E. Lundy in the Jefferson County Corporate Park, a move allowed by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency because the company decided it won’t offer retail sales.

The agency, which owns and manages the park, had previously asked business owners there for special permission needed for Penske to lease the building from Mr. Lundy, because it had planned to conduct retail operations there; the agency’s bylaws don’t allow retail operations at the corporate park without unanimous consent from owners. That vote failed this past fall because it was opposed by one business owner; a subsequent proposal from the agency that would have relaxed that law, allowing businesses with limited retail sales, also failed because it was opposed by one owner.

Solving the dilemma, Penske informed the agency last month that it no longer plans to conduct onsite sales at the 10,000-square-foot industrial center that will serve as a rendezvous point for rental trucks, said Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp.

“We received correspondence from the company saying it will not do retail out of that facility,” Mr. Alexander said. “We’re not policemen for that type of thing, so we have accepted they’re not going to do retail.”

Penske relocated from the Watertown Spring & Alignment site on Coffeen Street, which served as an agent to coordinate rentals.

Though Penske’s location at the corporate park is now operated by one employee, up to 25 could be employed when business is in full swing, said Randy Ryerson, company spokesman. Up to 20 trucks could be rented from the location, where the company plans to open a full-service garage to repair and maintain rental trucks.

Mr. Ryerson said the facility will specialize in commercial sales, not retail, to comply with agency guidelines at the park.

“Right now, the facility is going to focus on commercial truck rentals to accommodate the land owners,” he said, adding that the commercial truck rentals at Penske are climbing. “There has been a strong demand, overall, for commercial truck rental in the U.S. And this market (in northern New York) is experiencing a similar demand.”

Mr. Lundy, a developer from West Carthage, built the warehouse as a speculative venture in the park during the summer of 2010. He said past attempts were made to draw manufacturers there, but they were unsuccessful.

“Ideally, being an industrial park we would have loved to have a manufacturer there,” he said. “But we didn’t know the economy was going to take a dip. It would have been a great building for an industrial client, because that’s what we designed it for, but we couldn’t find any that were interested.”

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