Ground Up SS396, a Connecticut-based e-commerce company that sells parts for muscle cars like Chevelles, Camaros and El Caminos, is shifting its warehouse, call center and offices into the 70,000 square-foot building on Commerce Parkway formerly owned by Palm Coast Data, and used as Palm Coast’s City Hall before that. The company will be closing its Connecticut operation.
The move is a big win for the city, which announced the relocation earlier this week, though it’s been in the works since spring, the deal essentially sealed since then: Ground Up expects to have 30 to 40 jobs, once again filling a substantial office building and warehouse space that had been left vacant since the gradual retrenchment of Palm Coast Data–once the city’s largest private employer. Palm Coast Data in a dispute with its landlord resulting from a complicated merger was evicted from 2 and 11 Commerce Parkway last year.
Joseph Santoro, who owns Ground Up with his father Ken Santoro, bought the 2 Commerce property from Palm Coast Data’s former landlord for $4 million in April, according to property appraiser records. Palm Coast government had sold the building to Palm Coast Data in 2008 for $3 million as part of an incentive to keep Palm Coast Data from leaving the city (records have shown since that the company was never at risk of leaving. It almost moved to City Marketplace last year, but the legal settlement enabled it to keep the 11 Commerce building).
Since 2010 Ground Up has been operating out of a 40,000 square foot facility in Naugatuck, between New Haven and Waterbury in Connecticut. It had started as a tiny company in 1990, “selling tough to find parts at swap meets,” according to its website, and growing into what it describes as “the largest restoration supply house in the Northeast.”
The property paid $56,000 in property taxes in 2020, $13,000 of it to the city. Its taxable value has been improving steadily year after year.
“The City of Palm Coast welcomes Ground Up and we’re excited to see this business and its customer base grow,” Mayor David Alfin said in a release. “And with this move, they bring additional job opportunities to grow with the company. We welcome them to Palm Coast and thank them for their investment and commitment to our community.”
Ground Up, according to the release, cited as reasons for its move lower costs of doing business, a more amenable regulatory environment and a significant portion of the company’s customer base within 25 miles of Palm Coast. Also, the local quality of life and ease of working with the city. The company owners have had property in St. Johns County for a while and had become familiar with Palm Coast along the way. The company intends to carry out renovations of the 2 Commerce property, though the attraction there was also its ready-made layout as office building, warehouse and call center.
“When thinking about where we wanted to settle our business for the long haul, we knew Palm Coast would be the perfect location,” said Joseph Santoro. “We’ve successfully grown our business to have a close-knit family-feel and we are excited for the opportunity to work with young adults here in Palm Coast and help them grow their careers with Ground Up.”
The company was founded in 1990 on Long Island in New York.
Job opportunities are available now at www.ss396.com/cars/employment. The Santoros plan to hold a job fair in November to share additional career opportunities and meet potential candidates. Ground Up plans to begin operations at the Palm Coast location before the end of the year.