Amazon considering redesign of planned North Haven distribution center

Amazon considering redesign of planned North Haven distribution center


NORTH HAVEN — Amazon officials are contemplating a redesign of the planned distribution center at the former Pratt & Whitney site that shrinks the overall footprint, but adds interior mezzanine space.

Amazon has approval to build an 855,000 square-foot warehouse and distribution center at 415 Washington Ave. (Route 5) that would yield 1.2 million square feet in floor space to ceiling. The investment in the land and construction is estimated to be about $129 million and the personal property, including robotics, is estimated to add $130 million, according to town records.

But the retail giant is taking a second look at its plans and is contemplating a 655,000-square-foot redesign that would yield 1 million square feet in space. Part of the redesign includes adding refrigeration components, said First Selectman Michael Freda.

“I’ve been working with the owner and development company as they make a final decision,” Freda said.

Richard LoPresti, chairman of the town’s Economic Development Commission, said he feels the potential redesign is a positive because it will generate more revenue on taxable equipment inside the warehouse. LoPresti and Freda speculated that the refrigeration space could be related to Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods.

Amazon is working with Texas-based Hillwood Investment Properties on real estate and development since it first announced a distribution expansion in 2013.

Representatives from Hillwood could not be reached for comment. The building is owned by Rabina Properties, who bought it in 2001 and signed a lease with Amazon in June.

Freda said Amazon could stick with the 855,000-square-foot warehouse or move forward with the redesign, which would require Planning and Zoning Commission approval. Freda expects a decision by November. Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2019.

Freda has been dealing with Amazon for two years, helping them with local zoning and other hurdles. The former Pratt & Whitney site was vacant for more than 15 years.

Amazon will receive both local and state incentives for building in North Haven and creating 1,800 new jobs.

To alleviate traffic concerns, the town plans to add a second entrance to the property by extending Valley Service Road to the Amazon site.

In 2008, the town considered extending Valley Service Road to encourage economic development and has $1.6 million in federal funding and $600,000 in town funding for the work.

“We are working with the state Department of Transportation and U.S. Army Corps to get the road onto the Amazon site,” Freda said. “They are all parallel projects. All of the parts will happen at the same time.”

LoPresti said the access road is also a plus for the town and Amazon. Delivery trucks won’t need to travel busy Washington Avenue to access Amazon’s loading docks and employees coming from the south can also avoid Route 5 traffic.

In addition to the warehouse, Amazon is also planning its second North American headquarters in the U.S. and about 200 cities including four in Connecticut have asked to be considered. Amazon has a distribution facility in Windsor, and a sorting facility in Wallingford. Its recent acquisition of Whole Foods, also puts it in the state’s grocery business. Whole Foods has a distribution center in Cheshire.

“This is a very competitive situation,” Freda said about the bidding wars for the national headquarters. “They are looking for 169 acres. I gave them my last 169 acres. But if we get it in the region or in Connecticut, that would be a big boost also.”

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