Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane Amazon project takes form

Planning records suggest fulfillment center here will have at least 1,800 employees

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Potential Amazon Fulfillment Center

Amazon.com Inc. is on track to begin construction here as soon as early summer on a massive fulfillment center planned near Spokane International Airport, planning records indicate.

Technical and environmental documents recently filed with Spokane County also reveal new details regarding job numbers, and vehicle and heavy truck traffic the project will generate.

The Spokane County Planning Department nearly has completed a review of two applications for grading permits, and an initial environmental review indicates the county will recommend approval of the land use with certain conditions.

Those documents show about 1,800 employees are anticipated to work at the proposed facility, with the possibility of 2,400 maximum employees.

A payroll of 1,800 employees would make Amazon the seventh largest employer in Spokane County, although it would be the second largest private employer behind only Providence Health Care, according to the Journal’s 2018 Book of Lists.

A traffic impact analysis, however, shows calculations based on a typical employee count of nearly 2,300 employees with a peak season employee count approaching 3,000.

John Pederson, Spokane County Building and Planning Department director, says the grading permits could be issued in a matter of days, not weeks, and the applicant could submit building permit applications at any time.

“We haven’t received a full application yet,” Pederson says.

The project site is on the West Plains on the north side of Geiger Boulevard, northeast of the Interstate 90 Medical Lake interchange, and just southwest of Spokane International Airport.

Regarding the environmental review application, county staff likely will recommend a mitigated determination of nonsignificance with conditions, mostly regarding traffic issues, Pederson says.

The environmental documents show that construction is anticipated to begin in June, with completion anticipated by August 2019.

Something that’s not in the armload of technical documents under review, Pederson says, is the Amazon name.

“To us, it’s strictly Project Rose,” he says.

Seattle-based Amazon spokeswoman Lauren Lynch declined to comment about Project Rose when contacted by the Journal.

The project site plans, however, are nearly identical to plans for a prototype facility called Project Star that Amazon is planning in Oklahoma City. Some earlier Project Rose documents obtained by the Journal even named Project Star in Oklahoma City as a reference for contract proposals.

Just last week, Amazon confirmed it will open a fulfillment center in Tucson. The confirmation came barely two months after the first media reports surfaced there of a secretive project in the works codenamed Project Wildcat.

Now that the Tucson plans are official, Amazon says in a press release the fulfillment center there will create more than “1,500 full-time jobs with competitive hourly wages and a comprehensive benefits package including health care, 401(k), and competitive stock awards starting on Day One.”

Amazon’s fulfillment centers stock popular items, and employees pick, pack, and ship them to customers. The Seattle-based online retail giant has more than 80 fulfillment centers  located throughout North America.

Layton Construction Co., of Sandy, Utah, recently was named construction manager/general contractor for Project Rose. Layton Construction also is the contractor on a $250 million regional Amazon fulfillment center under construction in Salt Lake City, which is expected to open with 1,500 employees, according to that city’s website.

In Spokane, Layton Construction was the general contractor on the $6 million, 50,000-square-foot Larry H. Miller Downtown Toyota Dealership project, at 1128 W. Third, and the $3 million, 40,800-square-foot Larry H. Miller Downtown Honda dealership, at 1208 W. Third.

The latest design plans attached to the environmental document show Project Rose will include a primary structure with four levels totaling more than 2.6 million square feet of floor space, including an attached single-story, 40,000-square foot office area. The ground floor of the main fulfillment center is described as a 639,000-square-foot process level, and levels two, three, and four are described as robotic storage platforms.

The building will be 68 feet tall with the highest point above grade at 76 feet, plans show.

The 79-acre project site will include a parking lot with 1,876 employee and visitor parking spaces, and 309 spaces for truck parking, plans show.

Project Rose is projected to generate 4,756 typical weekday trips with 2,684 peak hour trips in the afternoon, according to a traffic impact analysis. During the peak seasonal employment anticipated in November and December, the fulfillment center will generate up to 6,245 weekday trips with peak hour trips totaling 2,684.

The traffic impact analysis was conducted by Helena, Mont.-based Morrison Maierle Inc., which has a Spokane office.

The analysis estimates 214 to 347 heavy trucks are anticipated throughout a typical weekday. Most trucks—60 to 70 percent—would approach and depart via the Medical Lake Interchange, which provides the nearest access to Interstate 90. The remaining 30 to 40 percent, most of which would be parcel services, such as Fed-Ex, United Parcel Service, and the U.S. Postal Service, would travel to and from the center via Geiger Boulevard and Flightline Boulevard to the east.

The grading permit and environmental review applications were submitted by T.C. Pursuit Services Inc., on behalf of the Portland, Ore. office of real estate development company Trammell Crow Co., of Portland, which recently developed an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Troutdale, Ore.

Steve Sieber, the Project Rose contact listed for T.C. Pursuit Services, says, “We don’t talk about projects at this point in development. We’re excited to be working in Spokane, though.”

Coffman Engineers Inc., GeoEngineers Inc., and J-U-B Engineers Inc., all of which have Spokane offices, also are providing services for the project.

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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