Landing Amazon in Tucson was a two-track process, with business and government leaders working to lure the company without knowing who it was.
It was a development team, not Amazon, initially negotiating expedited terms, a panel involved with the deal told members of the Pima County Real Estate Research Council at their recent meeting.
“Time was critical and the company wanted to be up within a year,” said Mike Levin, executive vice president of the Port of Tucson, where Amazon is building an 800,000-square-foot warehouse at South Kolb and East Valencia roads.
The port, on Tucson’s southeast side, is a shovel-ready-certified site, which means land has been prepped with grading and utilities ready to make specific site adjustments to accommodate interested users.
While port officials were making assurances that the company’s timeline for construction was feasible, city, county and economic-development leaders were expediting building permits, pre-annexation into the city of Tucson for water and reconfiguring utilities to match the proposed site plan.
“Everyone worked without knowing the client,” said Carla Blackwell, director of Pima County Development Services.
Anonymity was critical to sealing the deal and the City Council managed to get the project through a public process by referring to it as “Project Wildcat at Century Park Development.”
The warehouse and distribution center to fulfill online retail orders will be the second-largest in the Tucson area after Target’s 975,000-square-foot fulfillment center, also on the city’s southeast side.
The Amazon site will receive, store and ship products such as auto parts; appliances; electronics and software; groceries and alcohol; office supplies; toys; and video games.
The warehouse will also handle customer returns, light assembly, 3-D printing and direct product pickup by customers from automated kiosks.
The single-story structure will have 64 loading docks, 398 tractor-trailer parking spaces and about 2,500 vehicle parking spaces.
At full employment, Amazon expects to have about 1,500 full-time workers here and up to 1,900 during the holidays.
The company requested so many parking spaces because of overlapping parking for shift changes, Blackwell said.
Daniella Gallagher, vice president of economic development for Sun Corridor Inc., said Amazon’s main focus was workforce and community involvement.
“Their first question was, ‘Will this community embrace us?’” she said, adding that the company was impressed with how well the private and public sector worked together.
Amazon has four fulfillment centers in Arizona with more than 7,000 employees.
A certificate of occupancy for the Tucson warehouse has been requested by June 2019.