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Work is underway on a new distribution center in North Charleston for FedEx Ground. File/AP 

The online buying boom is helping deliver a new package-handling hub for FedEx Ground.

The company said it has struck a deal to lease a 260,000-square-foot distribution center that's under construction on Palmetto Commerce Parkway, between Ladson and Ashley Phosphate roads in North Charleston.

"The site was chosen because of its ease of access to major highways, proximity to customers' distribution centers and a strong local community workforce for recruiting employees," FedEx Ground said in a written statement. 

The building will replace a smaller logistics center the company has occupied on Magi Drive in Hanahan for the past 13 years. The new warehouse is expected to be completed in 2018.

"Exact staffing needs have yet to be determined, but the facility will employ a mix of full- and part-time employees," FedEx Ground said. "We will add to the workforce as necessary to support increased demand for service in the area."

The company will be leasing the property from an affiliate of SunCap Property Group, which built a similar-size distribution center for FedEx Ground in Spartanburg two years ago.

The Charlotte-based developer's Weber Drive Charleston LLC recently purchased the 49-acre North Charleston tract for about $8.6 million, according to county land records. The firm also borrowed nearly $30.3 million to finance the construction phase.

FedEx Ground said it's upgrading its local cargo operation as part of "a nationwide network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and further enhance the speed and service capabilities" of its transportation and distribution system.

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"The network enhancements have resulted in accelerating ground service delivery by one day or more in more than two-thirds of the United States," the company said. "With these changes, FedEx Ground is faster to more overall locations, including more residential locations, than the competition." 

The company was established as a division of FedEx Corp. in March 2000. It set up shop in North Charleston a year later with eight employees working from a 10,000-square-foot building. It moved to Hanahan in 2004. 

FedEx Ground reported sales of $4.7 billion in the fiscal year that ended May 31, up 9 percent compared to the previous 12 months, on higher rates and a 3 percent volume growth. 

The Memphis-based freight and shipping giant also is relocating another local cargo-handling depot within the region. FedEx Express is expected to move its "ship center" this year from 5056 International Boulevard near Tanger Outlets to 1991 Hawthorne Drive, off Rivers Avenue.

“The new, larger facility will enhance operational efficiency and allow us to better serve our customers,” a spokesman said last year.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott