| HERSHEY, Pa.
HERSHEY, Pa. May 4 Demolition crews are
clearing the last remnants from the Hershey Co. site where the
famous chocolate maker gave candy lovers their first Kiss more
than 100 years ago.
A new occupant will be moving into the 24-acre (10 hectare)
property on East Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania,
where Milton S. Hershey opened his first sweets factory in 1905.
In the years since the first teardrop-shaped chocolate Kisses
rolled off the production line in 1907, newer and more
innovative incarnations of the factory have occupied the site.
Wrecking crews are now clearing the site for the new owner,
said Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman. Westwood
Properties, a real estate investment company based in Garden
City, New York, bought the property in 2011 but has declined to
reveal plans for its future.
"It would be premature to comment on a specific next use,"
said Westwood general partner Isidore Mayrock.
In the village named after the chocolate company founder,
where street lights are shaped liked Hershey's Kisses, nearly
the entire factory site is being demolished, with work expected
to be finished by summer 2014.
Only 3 of the 24 acres have been spared and are being
converted to office space, Beckman said.
Village residents said they were disappointed that the
birthplace of an American icon was not being preserved.
"I was hoping they would at least use some of the old
factory for tours," said Kathi Sopp, 52, who has lived in
Hershey since 1987. "People should be able to always smell the
aroma of chocolate and sweat from generations of workers in this
Chocolate-making at the site ceased in April 2012, when
manufacturing operations were moved about two miles (3 km) away
to an expanded facility in West Hershey, a $300 million
construction project that updated the company's manufacturing
About 600 employees lost their jobs in the transition, said
Frederick Boltz, business agent at Chocolate Workers Local 464,
the union representing the employees. About 700 of the current
1,000 union workers are from the former factory, company
Boltz said other employees were given severance packages or
took early retirement.
Hershey's, best known for its chocolate bars and
confections, also makes Reese's, Jolly Ranchers and Twizzlers.
The company said it employs 4,800 people at Hershey and two
other Pennsylvania sites, an additional 4,000 people elsewhere
in the United States and another 5,200 people worldwide.
In addition to the village, a private philanthropic boarding
school, an amusement park and the international candy company,
as well as an entertainment and resorts conglomerate, are all
named after Hershey, who died in 1945.
This has been a year of change for some of Pennsylvania's
best-known companies. In February, famed investor Warren Buffett
said his Berkshire Hathaway Inc would team up with a
Brazilian financier to buy Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co.
in a $23 billion deal.