Systel has purchased a vacant commercial building in the county's industrial park to use as a distribution center


Systel Business Equipment Co. Inc. plans to open a new distribution center in Cumberland County to serve its Southeastern operations.

Systel, a Fayetteville-based dealer of office automation equipment, has bought an empty commercial building in the Cumberland Industrial Center. County officials have sought to sell the empty building for a decade.

Keith Allison, Systel's president and CEO, said he plans to consolidate his local distribution centers into one operation in the 125,000-square-foot "shell" building on Tom Starling Road. On Thursday, directors with the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce approved the sale for $1,514,000.

The structure was built in 2002 with a $1.8 million loan. It was designed to attract developers but sat empty, costing Cumberland County taxpayers more than $800,000 in interest on the loan. The county had agreed to back the loan if the building sat unsold after two years of construction.

The county commissioners agreed this month to sell the building for $1.5 million and pay the difference - about $377,000 - between the sale price and the outstanding principal. Chamber officials in charge of marketing the building said they had several prospective buyers throughout the years, and the building attracted some out-of-town employers who opted to move into other Fayetteville-area locations.

"We are thrilled with the sale," said chamber President Doug Peters.

Details of Systel's plans weren't available Thursday. It's unclear how many employees will work at the distribution center.

Allison is a well-known contributor to several private, civic and business causes. His company owns the leased-out Systel building on Green Street downtown, and his corporate offices are on Fort Bragg Road.

The buyer of the shell building is officially Allison Holdings LLC, which is Systel's property division. Keith Allison is the member manager of the holding company.

Systel started with only a few employees housed in one office and has grown to more than 200 in nine locations across North Carolina and Georgia.

Staff writer Andrew Barksdale can be reached at or 486-3565.