Lego, TTI seek foreign trade zone status for new Fort Worth facilities

TTI in Fort Worth is planning a $40 million distribution center in Fort Worth.
TTI in Fort Worth is planning a $40 million distribution center in Fort Worth. Star-Telegram archives

Lego Systems, the North American division of the LEGO Group, plans to consolidate two distribution centers from Alliance in far north Fort Worth to a $52 million facility at the northwest corner of Interstate 35W and Northeast Loop 820, according to a city report.

The site is one of two locations that the City Council is being asked to support for designation to qualify for a foreign trade zone tax exemption. The council is expected to approve letters Tuesday to the U.S. Foreign Trade Zone Board.

TTI, a global distributor of electronic components owned by Berkshire Hathaway, wants the tax exemption on 45.8 acres in the Mercantile Center business park, where it plans a $40 million, 600,000-square-foot distribution facility, according to a report.

TTI bought the land, at the northwest corner of Beach Street and Meacham Boulevard, in December of 2014. At that time, it declined to disclose details about the project.

Robert Sturns, Fort Worth’s interim economic development director, said the two projects are the second and third requests for tax-exemption status since the Commerce Department in 2010 approved an expansion of the foreign trade zone at Alliance to include the entire Alliance Corridor, along both sides of Interstate 35W from Denton to just south of Northeast Loop 820.

Foreign trade zones are supervised by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They are considered outside the customs territory of the U.S. for the purposes of duty payment. Duty payment on the foreign merchandise is not required until it enters the United States for domestic consumption.

Exel, a third-party logistics company, is seeking the foreign trade zone status for the Lego facility under construction at Mark IV Parkway and Cantrell Sansom Road. According to a permit filing, the facility was started in July and is scheduled to be completed in March.

Exel handles U.S. distribution of Legos from Alliance locations in Roanoke and Haslet, facilities that total about 1.1 million square feet. The buildings are owned by an investment fund of JPMorgan Chase. Lego, a privately held company based in Denmark, opened its Alliance distribution center in 2006. Lego will lease the new facility from Exel.

Lego last expanded at Alliance in 2010. The new facility will be about 1.4 million square feet and Exel expects to have about 250 jobs there, according to the city report.

TTI employs about 870 workers locally. The company has had a 190,000-square-foot connector warehouse at 2601 Sylvania Cross Drive in the Mercantile park for about a decade, which it leases from Mercantile Partners. It also has a corporate office at 2441 Northeast Parkway and a business development and sales office at 5050 Mark IV Parkway.