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Sweet Deal – Quaker Sugar Company

After operating out of cramped facilities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the last 42 years, the owners of the Quaker Sugar Co. got an offer they couldn’t refuse.


The family-owned distributor of sugar, salt and other food products sold its single-story 27,000-square-foot industrial building on Rodney Street for a tasty $31.5 million this summer to developer Slate Property Group, which is planning to put a seven-story, 126-unit apartment building on the site.


Needing new digs, Quaker’s principals began a wide search within the New York metropolitan area and found a sprawling 167,754-square-foot building at 100 Andrews Road in Hicksville where it can stretch out and expand. Though terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, industry sources put the property’s purchase price at around $16 million.


The Andrews Road building, which has an 18-foot-high clear ceiling and 14 loading docks, is partially leased to Cooper Lighting, which inked a seven-year lease for 68,571 square feet in July 2013. But Quaker will be able to occupy the other 99,183 square feet, allowing the company plenty of room to grow.


“Everybody here is excited about the opportunity this presents us,” said Quaker Vice President Adam Wechsler, who added that the company is spending a few million more in renovations to the Hicksville property. “This will allow us to broaden our product offerings.”


Founded in lower Manhattan 82 years ago, Quaker has operated within the tight confines of New York City’s industrial neighborhoods ever since. Besides the Rodney Street building, the firm leased three or four other spaces nearby for storage, and getting trucks in and out of Brooklyn’s narrow streets has been challenging and time consuming.


Despite those limitations, Quaker supplies millions of tons of sugar and other food products annually, operating as a master distributor for well-known brands that include Domino, Morton, Ocean Spray, ConAgra, French’s and others.


Company principals kicked the tires on several properties in the outer boroughs and Nassau County and even considered New Jersey before zeroing in on Hicksville.


“Most of us live in the city or on Long Island, so it didn’t make sense to go anywhere else,” said Wechsler, who lives in the Roslyn area.


Quaker will be bringing 15 jobs to the Hicksville facility and Wechsler said that number is likely to double within a year or two.


The Andrews Road sale was one of five properties that seller Rechler Equity Partners put on the market in the last year, because they no longer fit into the landlord’s 6 million-square-foot portfolio, according to company principal Mitchell Rechler. The firm’s recent dispositions, which include two 42,000-square-foot buildings in Hauppauge sold to Aladdin Packaging and Malmar Associates, are also a response to growing demand for industrial property here.


“Over the last two years there’s been a huge amount of interest in Nassau County and beyond from companies operating in the boroughs,” Rechler said. “They are getting crazy prices because of skyrocketing values in places like Brooklyn and Queens. We knew there was a big market out there.”

Located just a few blocks south of the Long Island Expressway, the 7.69-acre Andrews Road property shakes out as a roomy improvement for the busy food distributor.


Commercial real estate broker Neil Dolgin, of Brooklyn-based Kalmon Dolgin, which represented Quaker in its Hicksville acquisition, said there is very little industrial property available in the boroughs that has enough size for trucks. And with developers coveting industrial spaces to build residential projects in rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods, the astronomical offers are hard to turn down.

“That’s why people are moving to Long Island and New Jersey,” Dolgin said. “The costs of new facilities are substantially less than what they can get for their city properties.”


Now Quaker is the latest example of the exodus.


“We were restricted by space in Brooklyn. This has very easy access,” Wechsler said. “I’m really excited.”


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