Amazon still isn’t talking, but heavy earth-moving equipment was at work last week on the 115-acre site of a future fulfillment center off of Interstate-10 just east of El Paso’s city limits.
When completed, it will be a building like nothing El Paso has seen – with a $192 million price tag, a footprint covering 625,000 square feet, five stories reaching 100-feet high and 3.1 million square feet of inside floor space.
Located at Eastlake Boulevard and I-10, the Amazon fulfillment center is expected to take 20 months, which would put completion in March 2022.
“If you look at it separately, it’s got to be the biggest industrial deal that’s been built in El Paso – ever,” said Rick Amstater of RJL Real Estate Consultants.
The two largest commercial sites ever built in El Paso are Cielo Vista Mall at 1.2 million square feet on two levels and the former Farah Manufacturing plant off of Hawkins Boulevard, now the site of the Fountains at Farah lifestyle shopping center.
Despite the start of construction and the attention the project is receiving, Amazon’s publicity office won’t say that it’s an Amazon project, though official documents filed with the state confirm the company’s involvement.
In El Paso’s business and construction circles, it’s known as Project William, but involved companies are under confidentiality agreements barring them from disclosing any aspect of the project.
In response to El Paso Inc.’s latest inquiry, Amazon spokesperson Daniel Martin provided a statement saying, “Amazon is constantly investigating new locations to support the growth and increase the flexibility of its North American fulfillment network to address customers’ needs.
“However, the company is not yet commenting on any specific operations plans in El Paso.”
An El Paso fulfillment center would give Amazon a presence in the middle of a 1,000-mile gap between Amazon’s four locations west of Phoenix and the nearest fulfillment center to the east, in San Antonio.
According to Amazon’s online locations map, there are no fulfillment centers close to Austin or along the I-35 corridor between San Marcos and the outskirts of Dallas and Fort Worth, where there are seven – but none actually in either of those two large cities.
The company’s fulfillment centers are automated warehouses with hundreds of employees paid well above the minimum wage and not places to shop because customers do their shopping online for goods waiting in those warehouses.
The company sought no tax incentives from El Paso County, the only local government that could offer property tax and sales tax breaks as inducements for such a high-dollar development.
So the Amazon development costing $192 million to build and the 115-acre site will go on the tax rolls of the county, the county hospital district, which operates University Medical Center, El Paso Community College and the Socorro school district at full value.
Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.