NORTH HAVEN — Amazon is moving forward with its original plan to build a 855,000-square-foot warehouse on the former Pratt & Whitney site.
The online retailer had considered scaling back to 655,000 square feet, but opted against it because of potential construction delays, according to a town official.
Rabina Properties bought the 168 acre site from Pratt & Whitney in 2001 and signed a lease with Amazon last year.
”They are staying with the original design,” said First Selectman Michael Freda, who is in talks with Amazon’s developer, Hillwood Investment Properties. “There is heavy excavation equipment out there and construction is starting any day.”
The $250 million warehouse will feature robots working alongside employees to pick, pack and ship goods throughout the region. Some of the other equipment includes conveyer belts, forklifts, other vehicles, and refrigeration units to service Whole Foods locations.
A representative from Hillwood Investment Properties could not be reached for comment. Richard LoPresti, chairman of the town’s economic development Commission, said the proposed change in design would have required regulatory approvals that could have set construction back four to six months.
The finished warehouse promises 1,800 jobs, but Freda and others expects that number to climb to 3,000. Construction is expected to take 16 months and end in May 2019. The building will be two stories totaling from 1.1 million to 1.2 million square feet.
The town is also working with the state Department of Transportation, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers on plans to repair and expand Valley Service Road to provide secondary access to the warehouse away from congested Route 5.
The project entails working through acres of wetlands to connect the road to the site, Freda said.
”Now, folks coming from Hamden don’t have to go through the center of town to access the building,” LoPresti said. “Trucks don’t either.”
Amazon has a distribution facility in Windsor, and a sorting facility in Wallingford. Its acquisition of Whole Foods, also puts Amazon in the state’s grocery business. Whole Foods has a distribution center in Cheshire.
“It’s wonderful, I’m glad to move forward,” LoPresti said. “We’re all excited. It’s really been a catalyst for northern Washington Avenue. There are already plans for additional market rate housing.”