Amazon.com Inc. brought more than jobs and capital investment when it opened its newest and largest fulfillment center in River Ridge Commerce Center in Jeffersonville last fall.
There also are intangible benefits for River Ridge.
“Amazon gives us national and international recognition,” said Paul Wheatley, director of marketing and finance for the River Ridge Development Authority, which oversees the business park.
“The sheer size and scope of the operation confirms that we’re a world-class facility that can accommodate the sophisticated needs of a company of any size.”
As a result of Amazon’s location at River Ridge, “the reputation of the property, and of the state as a whole, has been enhanced,” agreed Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of One Southern Indiana, the economic development agency for Clark and Floyd counties. “Amazon is known as a savvy company that makes smart, deliberate decisions.”
The deal to sell the land and complete construction of the building came together in a matter of months, from March to October of last year, in order to meet demands of Amazon.com’s holiday retail operations.
KTR Capital Partners, the developer, put together the 70 acres in River Ridge Commerce Center for the site by purchasing 16 acres from the development authority and 54 acres from Crossdock Development. KTR built the facility and leased it to Amazon.
The transaction is the Best Industrial Lease or Sale in Business First’s 2013 Commercial Real Estate Awards program, and it also is the Deal of the Year in the program.
While Amazon.com Inc.’s needs for its new center began with the kind and size of space not readily available everywhere, the operation also needed easy access to major roads — and there’s plenty of that at River Ridge Commerce Center.
The facility is close to interstates 64, 65 and 265. Vehicle transportation received an additional boost in 2011 when then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill designating an adjacent roadway, Ind. 62, as a heavy haul road, to be widened to four lanes.
And accessibility will become even greater with construction of the East End Bridge over the Ohio River, connecting the Gene Snyder Freeway in Kentucky with the Lee Hamilton Highway in Indiana. Now set for completion in 2017, the bridge will extend the Interstate 265 loop as a circular highway around Louisville and Southern Indiana.
“It will give all of our tenants access to the Port of Indiana and — particularly important to Amazon — greater proximity to the UPS (United Parcel Service Inc.) Worldport and Louisville International Airport,” said Wheatley of the River Ridge Development Authority
“I’m sure the bridge was part of Amazon’s thinking,” said Chesser of One Southern Indiana. “Even though it’s a few years in the future, by moving quickly to grab this property, the company was clearly thinking about its long-term footprint.”
Logistical and tax benefits would have been meaningless, of course, if the right property were not available at the right time.
Because this was to be the new prototype for Amazon distribution facilities, it required a 40-foot clear height versus the standard 32- or 36-foot ceilings, according to information provided by the River Ridge Development Authority.
The added cubic square footage allows Amazon to incorporate a fourth multi-level package sorting and conveyor system, allowing it to increase storage capacity by a third.
Also, the building is fully air conditioned, contains break rooms and employs a lightning protection system. In addition, extra care was spent on site safety, with above-standard lighting and traffic management improvements installed throughout the site.
The new Amazon facility is one of the company’s five in Indiana and 45 in the United States. Millions of packages already have been shipped from the River Ridge site since it opened in October.
However, only 75 percent of the facility is now in use. Two expansion projects are planned, one for mid-2013 and another for late 2013, according to a previous Business First report.