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Amazon planning four-story warehouse in Oak Creek (UPDATE)

Online retailer Amazon is planning to build a four-story warehouse near Interstate 94 in Oak Creek, a project that has been under development for months using the code name “Project Arrow.”

At a meeting Tuesday evening, the Oak Creek Common Council approved a development agreement for Amazon’s proposed 2.6 million-square-foot building. Tuesday’s vote came after city officials discussed the deal in closed session and was the first public acknowledgement that Amazon was interested in the site.

When seeking wetland permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources last summer, developers and Oak Creek officials referred to Amazon’s development as “Project Arrow.” An affiliate of Dallas-based developer Hillwood recently spent $9.8 million on 75 acres in Oak Creek’s newly established Ryan Business Park, near I-94.

Hillwood has also purchased land for the retail giant in Garner, North Carolina, using a code name for the development. A similar project in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, is thought to be an Amazon development, too. The development in Brooklyn Park was referred to as “Project Hotdish,” and the one in Garner as “Project Axis.”

This use of code names and confidentiality agreements is consistent with what Amazon had also done when building the warehouse it now has in Kenosha. Doug Seymour, city director of community development, declined to comment on the company’s plans ahead of the council meeting Tuesday.

“They have asked for confidentiality and we’re going to respect that,” Seymour said.

According to current plans, Amazon’s Oak Creek warehouse would stand four stories tall and have an automated system that could ferry products between floors. It is expected to bring about 1,500 jobs to the city — 500 more than previously expected.

Under a development agreement, Amazon committed to spending not less than $200 million on its warehouse, including $100 million in actual property improvements and another $100 million in property inside the building.

The company said it will hire at least 1,500 workers at the facility and plans to pay an $40 million in gross annual wages by the end of 2021. That works out to about $26,000 on average.

The city has already approved a tax increment financing district for the Ryan Business Park. The development agreement obligates Hillwood to pay for $13.4 million in infrastructure costs, which include rebuilding 13th Street and Ryan Road. The city plans to use new property taxes generated in the district to refund Hillwood up to $3.5 million for infrastructure costs.

With the nearby OakView Business Park nearly full, city officials began making plans last summer to develop the Ryan Business Park. The city could spend between $22 million and $30 million on the business park, including between $12 million and $14 million on public-works projects needed to support expected developments.

Having Amazon as an anchor tenant would help hold down the cost of developing the Ryan Business Park. Plans estimate it would cost $22.3 million to set aside 70 acres of the 131-acre park for a single user and then carve up the rest into three smaller lots for other companies.

About Nate Beck, [email protected]

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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