El Paso Amazon center rendering

An architectural rendering of what the planned Amazon fulfillment center could look like. It was sent to companies bidding on the job but, at the time, could not be confirmed by El Paso Inc.

Layton Construction Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, has won the prime contract to build an $80 million Amazon fulfillment center in El Paso, the city’s first.

Construction of a five-story, 625,000-square-foot warehouse is expected to begin June 15 and to finish by Aug. 20, 2021, a Layton representative confirmed. It will be built on 85 acres just outside the El Paso city limits at Interstate 10 and Eastlake Boulevard.

Nationally, Amazon has 75 fulfillment centers with 125,000 fulltime employees earning $15 or more an hour. A center the size of the one coming to El Paso would employ hundreds of full-time associates.

Such a center would make thousands of items available for one day and maybe same-day delivery in the El Paso area, challenging Walmart’s retail dominance.

El Paso Inc. has been reporting on the Amazon project this month without the kind of official confirmation that Layton’s marketing communications coordinator, Kara Nicolaides, provided Thursday.

Headquartered in Sandy, Utah, just outside Salt Lake City, Layton Construction is a nationally ranked contractor that will be employing some of El Paso’s major construction companies.

Layton referred further questions to Ross Perot’s Hillwood Construction Services, the project developer in Dallas, and they did not respond to calls for additional information about the project, which is set to start in three weeks.

One of Amazon’s recently completed fulfillment centers opened last August in West Jordan, Utah, also in the Salt Lake metropolitan area.

That 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center now employs more than 800 Amazon associates, generally earning in the $15 range.

As with other Amazon warehouse projects, the El Paso project has been a well-kept secret, referred to in local business circles as Project William.

Typically, big companies planning major projects in El Paso look for decade-long incentive agreements that reimburse property taxes, various permit fees and sales taxes.

But the site, now partly owned by Hillwood, is outside El Paso, so the only incentives potentially available would come from El Paso County, whose officials say Amazon hasn’t sought property tax incentives – that they know of.

El Paso County Commissioners David Stout and Vince Perez, whose precinct includes the Amazon site, say the county’s Economic Development Department hasn’t brought anything to them that looks like an Amazon project.

“I don’t have any direct knowledge of whether Amazon is coming,” Stout said. “That name has not been mentioned in any of our meetings with our Economic Development Department.”

An administrator in the Economic Development Department said he was unaware of any pending incentive proposals on the scale of an Amazon fulfillment center.

Utah’s West Jordan project received a $5.7 million post-performance tax incentive package from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, along with the governor’s high praise for Amazon’s second big investment in that state in a year.

While the return on big incentive packages and the employment value of Amazon centers have been questioned by economic development studies and experts in recent years, Fresno California’s Mayor Lee Brand said studies are one thing, but jobs are another.

“Any Fresno high school student can tell you that the addition of 2,500 jobs starting at $15 an hour with benefits at the full operation of the Amazon fulfillment center will increase employment and reduce poverty in the area,” Brand told the Modesto Bee in 2018.

Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at dcrowder@elpasoinc.com or call (915) 630-6622.


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