3MSF Amazon Development Planned in Mesa

Credit: DLR Group/City of Mesa

By Roland Murphy for AZBEX (BEXCLUSIVE)

The Mesa Design Review Board heard a presentation in its November 9th meeting for a massive new industrial project planned for approximately 80 gross acres on a vacant site north of Pecos and west of Ellsworth Road.

Project Thunderbird, as the project is currently called, will have a first-floor footprint of nearly 650KSF, with a 348KSF mezzanine and four additional floors of 605.5KSF for a total building area of 3.425MSF and a height of 100 feet, according to the project data supplied to the Board by DLR Group.

Although Amazon is not named directly in any of the materials, multiple items in the submissions point to the global retail and distribution giant being the user.

  • The multi-floor design with mezzanine is a standard configuration for Amazon fulfillment and distribution centers;
  • The submitted narrative refers to the building’s functionality by saying, “The remaining 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, floors, known as the Robotic Storage PlatformsRSP” will house a large automated storage retrieval system with shelf-like storage units (Pods) that are moved by low profile robots.” Robotic Storage Platforms and RSP are Amazon-specific terms for its proprietary automated package processing system, which we first encountered reporting on Project Wildcat in Tucson back in March of 2018.
  • Seefried Industrial Properties, Inc. is listed as the owner under the site plan documents submitted with the project. Seefried is the named owner on at least four other Amazon developments in the state.
  • Conceptual renderings submitted with the project have the Amazon “smile” logo on the building in the background.

Amazon projects are traditionally kept very hush-hush in pre- and early development. Submitting projects under code names is common practice not just for Amazon, but for large, complicated developments in general until the developers are ready to go public.

Fortunately, the non-disclosure agreements binding economic development negotiators and parties involved in the developments largely become moot once official documents are filed.

The Project Details

According to the project documents, the main employee entrance will be along Pecos and the future-planned Hawes Road. Trucks will have a separate entrance along Pecos and from Hawes via an internal drive. Union Pacific Railroad plans to install a rail line along the property’s north end.

Union Pacific recently opposed an industrial project known as Unbound Gateway planned near Pecos and Sossaman roads, claiming the development lacks the necessary rail rights of way to enable a $100M rail line extension for the area to go through. The Mesa Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval for Unbound Gateway’s rezoning request after project representatives claimed Union Pacific had made no written offers for any properties related to the extension and that the project did not preclude the railroad from going ahead with the project if it decides to do so in the future.

The Project Thunderbird narrative states the new facility will operate on a 24/7/365 basis with approximately 750 employees per shift. Most employees will be on the ground floor for processing packages and orders, with floors 2-5 occupied by the RSP automated storage retrieval system, which will “consist of approximately 85 percent non-occupiable/unmanned space surrounded by a secure fence for the robotic retrieval system with the remainder 15 percent space utilized for warehouse employees picking orders and stowing product at the perimeter.”

The building and site will use form, materials and colors to integrate with the area and with nearby developments. Entries will make use of high-end finishes and special architectural treatments for a sense of arrival, and all the elevations will be designed for a “cohesive aesthetic.” Materials will consist primarily of concrete tilt panes, metal panels and accent screens, and glazing. No one material will make up more than 50% of the building’s façade.

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