Boeing plan would bring Silicon Valley services to its S. Carolina site
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. Aug 27 (Reuters) - Boeing Co is expected to receive final approval on Thursday to build what could be a Silicon Valley-style corporate campus as part of a major expansion of its factory in South Carolina.
Boeing has asked officials to rezone 466 acres of newly acquired land for use as an "Aerospace Campus," with dining and other consumer conveniences more familiar to employees of Amazon.com Inc or Google Inc than airplane factory workers.
Boeing, which tends to be guarded about any future expansion, said there no immediate plans to start erecting the new services, but it is not ruling them out.
The conceptual plan shows the "maximum utilization" of the site "as potential future business needs might dictate," spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said.
The new zoning would enable Boeing to include restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, dry cleaners, office supply stores, travel agencies, barber shops, newsstands, convenience stores, and child care, health and postal facilities, according to plans filed with the city of North Charleston.
The proposed expansion, due for a vote by city officials on Thursday, highlights the growing potential of Boeing's South Carolina factory. The plans also stand out in the community, said city planner Charles Drayton.
"They're building a corporate atmosphere, more than just an industrial park," he said. "It's unusual in North Charleston."
Planned communities in the city of just over 100,000 residents are mostly associated with residential and commercial use, Drayton said. "This one happens to be industrial and commercial, which makes it unique."
Boeing's North Charleston facilities currently are configured to make three 787s a month, and fuselage sections for the high-tech jet. It also will be the only site making Boeing's biggest Dreamliner, the 787-10, which is due out in 2018.
Boeing's plans, which show no timeline for construction, call for development of a new manufacturing plant, airplane parking, throughways for airplane and parts movement. The new 466-acre campus will add to the current footprint of 275 acres in North Charleston. Boeing has a long-term lease on the land.
The manufacturing plant would take up 79 acres on the new campus, the documents show. Parking and movement areas for airplanes and airplane parts would take up 126 acres. Space is allowed for offices, car parking and circulation, storm water detention and buffer zones.
Boeing also is expanding at its plant in Everett, Washington, where it also makes 787s. On Aug. 13, the company broke ground there on a new wing facility for its 777X jetliner, which is due in 2020.
Boeing's North Charleston plan has already been approved by the city's public safety committee, officials said. Wetlands mitigation has been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Drayton said the plan had been recommended by planning staff. (Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Alwyn Scott and Leslie Adler)
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