ACF Industries property under new ownership

The ACF Industries property in Milton has been purchased by MR Milton LLC, for $500.

MILTON — A 46-acre Milton industrial property which has been largely vacant for two years is now under new ownership, with initial plans to use the facility for e-commerce warehousing.

According to a property transaction recorded this week in Northumberland County, the ACF Industries property has been purchased by MR Milton LLC, for $500,000.

David Damaghi, a New York businessman, confirmed he is involved in the new ownership of the site.

"I buy industrial properties and thought it would be great to put it back in service, make a nice industrial site," he said.

Exact plans for the property are still being finalized.

"This is going to be a great site for making it into a lot of smaller warehousing for e-commerce, offices for e-commerce," he said.

Damaghi said he was particularly attracted to the site because of its rail access and the number of different trucking companies located in the area.

"I think rail service is going to be the future," he said.

Tea Jay Aikey, president and CEO of the Central PA Chamber of Commerce, said she has been in contact with the property's new owners.

"We have met and we are working directly with them," Aikey said.

Damaghi also noted meeting with Aikey.

"The people from Milton have been very open minded and very nice," he said.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State website, MR Milton LLC was formed June 15. It is registered to a location at 5400 Eadom St., Philadelphia. 

Good Deal Self Storage is located at that address, and noted to be under the ownership of Damaghi.

According to a May 10, 2018, article published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Damaghi has encountered legal problems surrounding his ownership of properties in the city.

The article said Damaghi was taken to court by the city for more than 100 violations at various properties, including a warehouse described by the Department of Licenses and Inspections as "a potential death trap" due to its "trove of fire-code violations and lack of zoning and use permits."

A separate Philadelphia warehouse with 50 business tenants was shut down in January 2018 after allegedly being found to have "many fire, plumbing and building violations," the article said.

The former ACF property had been listed for sale by Binswanger, a Philadelphia firm.

Milton Borough Code Enforcement Officer Doug Diehl said the borough has not been contacted by any parties involved regarding the sale of the property.

George Venios, executive director of The Improved Milton Experience (TIME), said his organization was not aware of the sale.

In its marketing of the property, a sale price was not listed by the Binswanger. However, a brochure listed assets at $491,500. The land assessment was listed at $326,530, while the improvements assessment was listed at $165,200. Property taxes for 2020 were estimated at $58,752.

According to information filed through Northumberland County, the following fees were paid as part of the property transaction: State transfer tax, $5,000; state writ tax, 50 cents; JCS/Access to Justice, $40.25; recording fees, $39.25; recorder of deeds affordable housing, $11.50; demolition fund, $14.25; county archives fee, $2; rod archives fee, $3; Milton Area School District, $2,500; Milton Borough, $2,475; Turbot Township, $25.

Eight buildings were listed in the sales brochure as being included with the property.

Those buildings include: A 50,400-square-foot facility, with 40-foot-high ceilings and 12 grade-level doors; a 15,300-square-foot former schoolhouse; a 59,200-square-foot facility, with seven grade-level doors and one 5-ton crane; a 14,500-square-foot building, with four grade-level doors; an 8,400-square-foot building, with a 27’-high ceiling and two grade-level doors; a 74,311-square-foot facility, with 30-foot-foot high ceilings and 20 grade-level doors; a utility building; a 114,274-square-foot building, with 30-foot-high ceilings and four 25-ton cranes; and a 35,780-square-foot building.

ACF had a major cutback in 2009, when the company laid off most of its then 300 workers in Milton.

Union officials confirmed in 2012 that an agreement had been reached for the plant to resume operations in 2013. ACF officials said at that time that over 300 employees would be called back to work at the facility.

Former Gov. Tom Corbett visited Milton in June 2013 to announce that ACF received $483,000 in state funding from the Governor’s Action Team. The funds were to be used for machinery and equipment purchases, as well as employee training.

ACF Industries released most of its Milton workforce and closed its doors at the facility at the end of 2019.

Multiple items from the former railcar manufacturing facility were sold in an online auction, conducted in the summer of 2020.

The Milton Fire Department responded to incidents at the ACF facility on two separate occasions in 2021.

On April 6, firefighters were called to a building on site after it became charged with electricity after a forklift operated by scrap workers struck an electrical line.

On Aug. 6, firefighters doused a fire which broke out in a separate building at the facility where scrap work had been taking place.

ACF Industries has roots in Milton dating back to 1864, when it was founded as Milton Car Works and owned by Murray, Dougal and Company.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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