Giant Amazon fulfillment center illustrates development potential in Aurora, city says

April 19, 2017 GMT

AURORA | Jutting out of windy plains on the city’s northeastern edge, the new 1-million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center is hard to miss.

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said the project — Amazon’s second in Aurora, which is thus far the only Colorado city Amazon calls home — is a sign of what can happen as the city works to lure big-name brands.

“Development has been happening in Aurora for years, and this is an example of that,” he said.

Last week, officials from the e-commerce giant showed off the massive distribution center to local elected officials and economic development leaders.

Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said the plan is for the facility to open sometime in late summer or early fall.

Already, Amazon has hired several managers and support staff for the site, which is Amazon’s second Colorado facility. The state’s other Amazon location is a sortation facility that opened last year near Tower Road and Interstate 70. That site, too, is in Aurora.

Robinson said this summer Amazon will start hiring about 1,000 people who will staff the huge warehouse where thousands of packages will be shipped every day and where tons of merchandise will be stored.

Paul Pace, director of operations for Amazon’s west coast fulfillment centers, said the site is already employing about 750 construction workers.

Aurora city council earlier this month unanimously approved a resolution granting up to $1.18 million in tax breaks for Amazon to build the project. The agreement formalizes a deal city officials made with Amazon in previous closed-door talks. The company announced its plans to move to Aurora earlier this year.

According to the city, the new Amazon facility will generate about $130 million in investments.

The thousand or so employees who work at the site will earn an average salary of about $30,000, plus benefits.

The Amazon center is expected to generate about $6.5 million in taxes in the coming decade, according to Chad Argentar, the city’s economic and business development supervisor. Without the $1.1 million rebate, the city will still receive about $5.4 million in taxes from the company.

The project is one of several massive distribution centers to open in the far northeast corner of the city in recent years.

While the site — which is roughly at Smith Road and Picadilly Road, just a short jaunt north of Interstate 70 — is several miles from the city’s center, officials say this corner of town is where Aurora’s future growth will happen.

The area has ample undeveloped land and easy access to both I-70 and the E-470 toll road. It’s also within a few miles of Denver International Airport and Front Range Airport.

Aurora City Councilman Brad Pierce said the northeast corner of the city has always been viewed as the next piece of the city’s growth. But until E470 came through and added another transportation option in the area, large-scale development wasn’t really feasible.

“I think E470 has been the catalyst for all of the development out here,” he said during before touring the Amazon site last week.

Now, he said, the list of marquee companies choosing this corner of Aurora is a who’s who of big business — Best Buy, Walmart, General Motors and several others.

“It’s all kind of coming together at the same time,” he said.

With those facilities opening and the jobs they bring, the area will likely need additional housing stock, Pierce said, but that too is coming.

He pointed to nearby Murphy Creek as a subdivision that will likely see increased growth as a result of the business development near I-70 and E-470.

He also pointed to the massive Aurora Highlands project that was announced this spring.