After watching nearby cities score big-name retail warehouse projects over the last few months, Surprise now has its latest big catch.
E-commerce retail giant Amazon plans to build a “last-mile” delivery station in Surprise’s Railplex District, bringing as many as 300 jobs with it.
“It’s exciting to prove that Surprise has that infrastructure in place and the talent,” Surprise Economic Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic said about the big addition to the city’s workforce.
The group can begin preliminary construction as soon as the first week of August with a possible opening date in early 2021. Typical Amazon building time frames are six to ten months.
The facility will go up near Litchfield and Waddell roads, just south of the entertainment complex that features Uptown Alley and the AMC Surprise Pointe 14 theaters.
Ms. Jerkovic said the facility will serve all of greater northwest Phoenix with delivery services. It will act as an e-commerce hub for the region.
“We’re so excited to bring another great household name to that landscape,” Ms. Jerkovic said. “It’s a legitimizer when you can bring a project of that brand across the finish line. It helps other corporations understand there’s a business-friendly community willing to help with projects of that size.”
Discussions with representatives for the retail giant and the city began rapidly earlier this year.
It turned out Surprise’s willingness to speed the company through the approval process swayed the company, not some elaborate incentive deal.
“Time is money, so we were able to move them through the planning process at a quicker time frame to meet their needs, and that’s what made the difference to them,” Ms. Jerkovic said.
Amazon has typically been known to evaluate sites for a year or so before making decisions. That was sped up considerably in Surprise.
“They knew we had a viable site that had the workforce and the demographic growth,” Ms. Jerkovic said.
Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic may have indirectly sped up the process as well. With online shopping sales at all time highs because of more people staying home when they can, Ms. Jerkovic said Amazon was interested in getting up and running as soon as possible.
“My sense that I had was there was almost an acceleration with global events,” Ms. Jerkovic said. “In the pandemic environment, people are shopping [online] more.”
The company submitted a site plan to the city on Feb. 16. A concept review meeting was held a little more than a month later.
The Surprise Planning and Zoning Commission signed off on the project June 18, but it was disguised with the name Project Baxter.
That project that commissioners unanimously approved is a one-story, 145,491-square-foot facility on a little less than 38 acres of land.
Plans call for 1,339 parking spaces, and 331 additional spots for associates.
There will be eight entry points to access the facility with two on each side. Associates will enter from Soledad Street.
The facility will be one of six different types of structures Amazon builds to serve its customers.
“Some of them sort products,” Ms. Jerkovic said. “Some of them help assemble. This one will help that last-mile.”
According to the plan P&Z approved under Project Baxter, the facility will operate similar to other transportation and package delivery providers such as USPS, UPS and FedEx.
Editor’s Note: Jason Stone can be reached at email@example.com. Visit yourvalley.net.