KENNEWICK — Earlier this year the Tri-City Herald broke the news that Amazon would be delaying the opening of its two massive Pasco warehouses. While the company was reluctant to offer reasons why, it now appears part of a strategic move involving dozens of new warehouses across the county.
In May, the company announced it was slowing its build-out and logistics growth after its slowest quarter in nearly 20 years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Logistics and supply chain information service Freight Waves reported recently that they found at least 16 instances of Amazon canceling or delaying new warehouses.
Only one of the four delays the Herald reported on in May were on that list, indicating the final tally could be closer to two dozen.
At least four warehouses in the U.S. were canceled completely.
Including all types of facilities, Amazon is likely to be delaying, canceling or subleasing about 40 facilities. Despite the slowdown, Freight Waves estimates that Amazon will still open 250 facilities this year.
Freight Waves cited inflation, slow down in pandemic spending, and consumers beginning to travel more as reasons for more sluggish online sales. Meanwhile, Amazon had spent billions rapidly growing its logistics and warehouse network.
The Pasco warehouses were originally estimated to be complete in August and opening in September, with hiring over the summer.
It is now likely they’ll open sometime in Spring 2023. Construction continues at the projects, with contractors regularly updating and filing new paperwork with the city of Pasco.
The warehouses each clock in at more than 1 million square feet, and would bring on 1,500 total employees, with thousands of vehicles added daily to Tri-Cities roadways daily..
Amazon is expected to partner with local development organizations for recruiting, but has not yet reached out to the Tri-Cities Development Council to begin the process, according to TRIDEC President Karl Dye.
Pasco site delay
In a May e-mail to the Herald, Amazon spokesperson Alisa Carroll confirmed the opening of the warehouses is being delayed. She did not give a specific reason for the change.
“We’re still excited to launch in Pasco, though we’ve had to adjust our timing,” Carroll said at the time. “We know the community is excited about the opportunities we’ll be bringing to the area, and we look forward to sharing new timing along with information about the great jobs, industry-leading pay, and comprehensive benefits we’ll be bringing to the community just as soon as we can.”
“Since 2010, we’ve invested more than $129 billion in Washington in the form of infrastructure and compensation to employees, and have created more than 85,000 full-time jobs (as of Q4 2021),” Carroll said.
“We’re proud of the investments we’ve made in Washington state and look forward to continued prosperity in the region,” she wrote.
Amazon did not respond this week to a request for an update on its projects.
The two Tri-Cities warehouses are nearly the same size but will be much different because of the types of products each is planned to house.
They are expected to put a combined 2,800 vehicles on roadways daily in the Tri-Cities. Most of the traffic will be from employees, with a total of about 650 trucks in and out of the warehouses.
The eastern warehouse — or Project Oyster at 1361 S. Road 40 East — sits on 162 acres and will handle smaller goods such as household items, books, toys and technology.
Oyster is the larger of the two projects. It isn’t just a slightly larger footprint though, the inside will have an additional 252,000 square feet of space on a mezzanine level.
The western warehouse, which is directly across the street at 1202 S. Road 40 East, is known as Project Pearl. It sits on 104 acres.
It will hold larger items such as furniture, outdoor equipment, as well as large packages of paper goods and pet supplies.
While those are both certainly large warehouses, even combined they don’t come close to some of Amazon’s largest facilities.
An under-construction warehouse in Ontario, Calif., will clock in a 4.1 million square feet. Their largest operating warehouse is a facility that’s 3.6 million square feet in Tennessee.
If they were to open today, the Pasco warehouses would rank as the 9th and 11th largest in the United States.