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May 18, 2020

Amazon eyes second distribution center in Windsor; looks to add 1,000 new jobs

Photo | Contributed An Amazon employee in the company's existing Windsor fulfillment center at 200 Old Iron Ore Road. The company plans to open a second distribution facility in Windsor on Kennedy Road by year-end 2021.

E-commerce giant Amazon, which operates a massive fulfillment center in Windsor, is planning to occupy a second major warehouse/distribution center in town where it expects to add 1,000 new jobs, town officials say.

As first reported by HBJ last month, Indiana developer Scannell Properties has proposed to build a $50-million, 823,000-square-foot distribution hub on former tobacco farmland at 1201 Kennedy Road and 1 Joseph Lane. Town officials and design professionals representing Scannell at the time did not name a potential tenant.

Amazon, though, emerged as the prospective tenant last week as the town’s Economic Development Commission voted to recommend that the Town Council consider a multi-year tax abatement sought by the company, which plans to invest at least $200 million to build out the facility.

Town records show Amazon is seeking a seven-year, 100% tax abatement that would save the company an estimated $4 million to $5 million annually upon completion of the project. 

The Town Council is expected to discuss the proposed abatement at an upcoming meeting, said Jim Burke, the town’s economic development director.

Scannell, meantime, is seeking a special use permit and site plan approval from the town's Planning and Zoning Commission. It received an inlands wetlands permit from the town in recent months.

A spokesperson for Amazon on Monday said the second potential Windsor operation would provide the company "with the flexibility to quickly respond to our future network needs." They could not, however, provide additional comment on the company's future plans in town.

According to plans, the five-story e-commerce storage and distribution facility would include 63 loading docks, 1,800 car parking spaces, 16 motorcycle spaces and 206 trailer parking stalls. 

By comparison, the building’s footprint would be smaller than the existing Dollar Tree logistics center on International Drive and the Amazon fulfillment center on Old Iron Ore Road. 

The new facility would receive shipments of small-sized products from Amazon's North American fulfillment network. Amazon expects to invest at least $200 million in lease expenses and capital improvements at the 147-acre site, which is still owned by the Thrall family farm (O.J. Thrall Inc.), land records show. 

Amazon is hoping construction begins at the facility in the third quarter of 2020 before it starts occupying the new space in the third quarter of 2021.

If approved, Amazon would work closely with the town to employ "as many people from the community as possible once the proposed facility is operational,” according to the proposed abatement.

Photo | Contributed
Scannell Properties is building Amazon's massive distribution center on former tobacco farmland in Windsor, 1201 Kennedy Road.

Burke said Amazon’s second Windsor facility would operate much differently from the company’s existing 1.2-million-square-foot fulfillment center that debuted in 2016. That $50-million facility, located off Day Hill Road near the Bloomfield line, operates as a hybrid, sortable fulfillment center handling both large and small packages. The new facility, he says, would have more robotic capabilities and house and distribute small packages.

At a recent planning and zoning commission meeting, some residents expressed concern that the proposed warehouse/distribution facility would create noise and traffic at the property flanking the intersection of Kennedy Road and Joseph Lane, meeting minutes show.

The development of Amazon’s second Windsor distribution facility comes as the company recently said it hired about 1,600 workers in Connecticut as demand for its products surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company, which also operates a 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center at a former Pratt & Whitney engine plant in North Haven, and is currently leasing warehouse space in Newington, also said it plans to create an additional 1,400 Connecticut jobs. 

Meantime, the distribution center would also continue Scannell’s aggressive development spree in Greater Hartford.

In South Windsor, Scannell is building a 421,000-square-foot distribution facility on vacant land that will be leased long term by Home Depot upon completion. The combined 46-acre property is listed at 360 Ellington Road, 245 Chapel Road and R008 John Fitch Boulevard.

The Home Depot operation will sit across the street from another Scannell project -- a $42.4 million Coca-Cola office and distribution facility at 329-359 Ellington Road.

This story has been updated to include comment from Amazon

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