FedEx departs city for new Mercedes freight facility

HARLINGEN — Despite the city’s best efforts, the FedEx freight facility located at 2701 N. Expressway 77, just south of Primera, has packed its packages and relocated trucks and personnel to a new facility in Mercedes.

On Monday, the parking and shipping bays were empty, and all FedEx signage had been removed.

Inside, a cleaning crew team was busy, and workers confirmed the facility and its employees had been reassigned to Mercedes. The only reminder of the previous tenant was a crooked FedEx dropbox sitting forlornly in front of the abandoned warehouse.

The move to Mercedes from the Harlingen location has been in the planning stages for several years, and FedEx still retains a robust presence at Valley International Airport. City officials had tried to induce FedEx to stay at the freight facility, going so far as to offer adjacent land to allow the company to expand.

“FedEx has been looking at expanding somewhere for probably three years, and they said that the reason they moved to Mercedes was it’s a data-drive decision,” said Raudel Garza, CEO of the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. “Based on the data that they have, based on their customers and where their trucks should go in, and how they can save money and be the most efficient operation, they decided that they needed to be a little further west so they moved 15 minutes to the west.”

Garza said he was unsure of the number of employees FedEx has moved to Mercedes, but news reports put the staff total at about 150.

“We tried to convince them to stay in Harlingen,” Garza said. “We own the land behind FedEx because of that. Project Wilson really was FedEx expanding on-site. So we tried to get them to expand on-site and it didn’t really matter because as I said, it’s not a real estate decision, it’s a data decision.”

Project Wilson was the code name the HEDC used for the FedEx expansion offer.

For its part, FedEx responded to a request for comment with a statement saying the new facility is better-equipped to meet the company’s needs.

“We continuously evaluate opportunities to better serve the needs of our customers,” the statement read. “Operations at the new service center in Mercedes began Sept. 30, relocating from a facility in Harlingen. All team members relocated to the new center in Mercedes. The new facility is larger and allows us to better serve our customers in the region now and in the future.”

Garza is bullish about the prospects of the warehouse left behind by FedEx.

“The building is being marketed right now,” he said. “There are several prospects that I know about that are looking at it right now. It’s a great location and it’s a very nice building, so it’s a good asset to market and I don’t think it will be empty for very long.”