A 2012 DVRPC report entitled, The Delaware Valley Freight Center Inventory: Taking Stock of a Vital Regional Asset, applied a traditional planning approach of identifying and stratifying centers (e.g., as used in the DVRPC long-range plan, Connections) and designated major concentrations of freight transportation activity in the region. Freight Centers are defined as contiguous land parcels (under either joint or individual ownership) that are dedicated to one of the following types of freight activity: light manufacturing, heavy manufacturing, distribution, transportation, quarry/mining, and utility.
In 2018, an update to DVRPC’s Freight Center designations identified a wider range of centers in the region and qualified these locations by type of activity rather than size. The 67 Freight Centers were classified into five center typologies. Each typology represents a unique type of clustered development and industries, as well as supporting infrastructure, and context of neighboring land-uses.
The Freight Centers were identified using through a comprehensive data analysis of key indicators for feight activity. A full detailed look at the process is available in the Freight Centers of Greater Philadelphia tool available here.
An International Gateway Freight Center is a core node in the regional and national goods movement system and its connection to the global market. These centers are focused around a single or multiple maritime or air port facilities that serve as the gateway. The economic activity and land development at these facilities is directly related to supporting trade and distribution of import/export goods through the related port terminal. Building size and distribution is often varied but commodity specific, driven primarily by the port terminal activity.
A Heavy Manufacturing Freight Center is a node focused around heavy industrial land-uses involved in the manufacturing of goods. These centers are served by freight rail access and often have additional access to a port terminal allowing for the movement of bulk or break-bulk source materials. Employment and development at these centers is focused around manufacturing. The mix of building development is highly dependent on manufacturing processes but often includes dedicated power plants, old industrial buildings, and tank farms.
A Distribution and Logistics Freight Center is a node with a high concentration of regional and national serving distribution and logistics businesses. These centers are often located around key highway interchanges with access to both port gateways and consumer markets. Employment and development at the center is primarily third-party logistics providers, national retail chain warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment centers, as well as supporting services such as truck service, tires, and leasing. This center typology has a combination of large footprint or high ceiling modern warehouses as well as small footprint cross-dock facilities.
A High Tech Manufacturing Freight Center is node focused around advanced manufacturing land-uses and businesses. These centers rely less on major freight rail and maritime facilities but are well located relative to highway facilities. Employment and development at these centers is primarily in bio-pharmaceuticals, electronic components, advanced chemical manufacturing, with a mix of research and development activity. This center typology is often small footprint, flex buildings with an occasional mix of office facilities and residential development in close proximity.
A Local Manufacturing and Distribution Center is a node focused around locally serving small manufacturing and distribution facilities. These are less dependent on prime location near interstate interchanges but are well served by smaller highway facilities and proximity to consumer populations. Employment and development at these centers is primarily in local food and beverage distribution, building and contractor supply, and small scale manufacturing. This center typology is often comprised densely developed, smaller footprint warehouses and industrial facilities.