OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Corporate giant Hobby Lobby is again expanding the footprint of its Oklahoma City headquarters.
Hobby Lobby will occupy 6 million square feet at SW 44 and Council Road after the expansion of one of its warehouses is completed this summer — double the space it had eight years ago.
And the company isn't done growing. Work is beginning on a three-story, 150,000-square-foot office building just south of SW 44. The $16.8 million project is expected to be complete next year.
And Hobby Lobby's plan to build six additional buildings, creating an L-shaped industrial park along Airport Road, were approved by the city's planning commission Thursday.
The Oklahoman reports (http://is.gd/eQbzp1 that, when complete, the projects will bring the crafting company's campus to more than 6.6 million square feet. Hobby Lobby is the largest industrial property owner in Oklahoma City.
"They are a dynamic force in Oklahoma and they have a tremendous influence on the industrial market, particularly in that area," said Randy Lacey, vice president of Newmark Grubb Levy Strange Beffort.
He noted several other companies — Associated Wholesale Grocers, Paccar and Medline — have made major investments near Hobby Lobby. "This area has really experienced a lot of growth. Hobby Lobby is leading the way," Lacey said.
Hobby Lobby spent about $35 million buying up properties and 300 acres surrounding its headquarters in 2012, according to county records.
The seven buildings in the company's expansion plans will be constructed south of SW 44. One is the three-story office building and the other six will make up the industrial park: five 80,000-square-foot buildings and one 130,000-square-foot facility.
Construction will begin in July on three of the smaller buildings. Each of those will house a different department, said Bob Mackey, vice president of construction for Hobby Lobby. Plans for the three others are undecided.
Company officials say the growth in Oklahoma City is necessary to support its growing network of stores. Hobby Lobby opened 33 new stores in 2011 and 29 in 2012, and expects to add 35 more in 2013.
"We continue to be blessed with opportunities to expand our business nationwide, even during these challenging economic times," said Randy Childers, vice president of real estate.
"Along with this growth comes expansion of our distribution and corporate operations in Oklahoma City."
He noted that in March 2011, the company employed 3,045 people at the Oklahoma City distribution and corporate campus.
Campus employment rose to 3,564 in March 2012 and to 3,867 in March 2013.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com