ARLINGTON — Amazon revealed itself Thursday as the mystery tenant behind a planned development known for months as Project Roxy.
The Seattle-based online retail giant plans to open the $355 million distribution center later this year.
The massive facility will be south of Arlington Municipal Airport, in the Cascade Industrial Center at 4620 172nd Street NE.
Construction is to begin Monday with grading of the property, Arlington city officials said.
The company expects to hire 1,000 full-time employees at a starting wage of $15 per hour, according to Amazon.
“We’re excited to open a new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center in the City of Arlington,” said Alicia Boler Davis, an Amazon vice president for global customer fulfillment. “Arlington and surrounding communities in Snohomish County offer a talented workforce, and we look forward to growing employment beyond the more than 80,000 employees already serving customers in the region.”
Plans call for a five-story building with a 635,000-square-foot footprint, a 212,000-square-foot mezzanine and another 494,000 square feet of space on floors two through five.
There will be parking for 1,250 cars and 314 trucks. The building will have 51 loading docks. In all, the center is expected to encompass a footprint equal to 10 football fields.
“The City of Arlington welcomes this new Amazon facility to our diverse and growing business community in the Cascade Industrial Center,” Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said. “Amazon brings great jobs with great pay and benefits, as well as opportunities for longer-term careers. This will help working families across our region.”
The center will be built on private property previously owned by National Food, an Everett company.
Street improvements in the area will be paid for by the project’s traffic mitigation fee and will begin as the development nears completion, city officials said. Plans call for a roundabout to be built at 172nd Street and 43rd Avenue NE, and construction of a new street — 168th Street — that will parallel 172nd.
Amazon said in July it was on track to open 33 new fulfillment centers in the United States. The company currently operates 110 of the massive distribution centers and scores of smaller facilities across the United States.
Amazon employs about a million people in the United States, with most involved in distribution.
The company’s rapid expansion, as well as new and existing operations, have drawn criticism from merchants and employees, including recent widespread allegations that Amazon drivers are bound to such tight delivery schedules that they often struggle to take a bathroom break.
The company initially scoffed at those claims, and then later in a blog post admitted that drivers “can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes,” a situation made worse “during COVID when many public restrooms have been closed.”
Still, the retail giant called it a “long-standing, industry-wide issue” that’s not specific to Amazon.
Amazon workers at a new distribution center in Alabama cast their ballots last month to determine whether to form a labor union. Those votes were being tallied Thursday. If approved, they would become the first Amazon employees to gain collective bargaining rights, and the outcome could pave the way for other Amazon workers to seek union representation.
The Arlington center expands Amazon’s presence in Snohomish County, where the company already has two smaller delivery warehouses.
In 2017, Amazon opened a 92,000-square-foot warehouse in south Everett.
Two years later, Amazon leased the lion’s share of a building developed by Panattoni, a 204,498-square-foot facility at the 86-acre Riverside Business Park in northeast Everett. That facility is in the 600 block of Riverside Road, near BNSF Railway’s Delta Yard, and just west of the FedEx Freight distribution center at the Port of Everett’s industrial business park along the Snohomish River.
Growth in Snohomish County is expected to be accompanied by greater demand not only for housing but delivery of consumer goods. The county’s population is about 830,000, according to statistics from the state Office of Financial Management. Estimates project the population will exceed 900,000 by 2030.
The Cascade Industrial Center and the area of Arlington Municipal Airport has been the focus of several new projects, including a purchase last year by a firm associated with Blue Origin, the Kent-based spacecraft company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Plans for the Amazon project were filed with the city of Arlington last fall under the name Project Roxy by Panattoni Development. The developer, based in Newport Beach, California, at the time didn’t disclose the tenant, and the city signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Non-disclosure agreements between tech companies seeking real estate and city governments are increasingly common. They’re legal, but critics say they leave communities and the public in the “dark about economic and environmental risks” associated with projects, according to a report by BuzzFeed News in 2018.
The Arlington mayor has defended the non-disclosure agreement, saying some companies don’t want their names revealed until the last moment because that knowledge can affect land values.
Under the name Project Roxy, Tolbert has said, the proposal underwent a full public disclosure, aside from the identity of the tenant, with project plans available online.
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