NEW PORT RICHEY — Online shopping giant Amazon will build a new distribution site in Pasco County that will feature a unique and extensive robotics system, Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, announced to county commissioners on Tuesday.
The company will soon begin construction on a $150 million, 517,220-square-foot facility on State Road 52 at Bellamy Brothers Boulevard. It will provide 500 new jobs. Construction is expected to take just less than a year.
“This is the good stuff, guys,” Cronin told commissioners. “This is the one you fight over.”
The center’s robotics features will bring high-quality jobs for people who can work with them because of their technical skills, Cronin said, not the lower-paying sorting positions seen in other warehouses.
The center will be well-suited for the area, he said, especially with the robotics technology training already underway in the Pasco area through area academies and the AmSkills workforce training program.
Amazon closed on the sale last month paying $11,807,200 for just less than 69 acres, according to Pasco County property records.
The property chosen is known as the Eagle Industrial Park, which is one of the parks that Pasco had been marketing for development under its Ready Sites Program, which is funded through the Penny for Pasco. The program evaluates and markets large tracts for industrial development.
The announcement prompted a discussion by commissioners about whether they should focus on preparing new ready-to-build sites throughout the county to be ready for future development. Commissioner Mike Moore, who has repeatedly voiced concern about the corridors along State Roads 54 and 56 becoming hot spots for apartment projects instead, asked, “What should we do to preserve some of these job-creating sites?”
“Eventually we could run out of space” for these kinds of needed job providers, Moore said.
The new Amazon site will join another company warehouse facility off State Road 54.
“This is a unique facility supporting a lot of technology and robotics,” said Commissioner Ron Oakley. “I am thrilled to have such a cutting-edge facility join the evolving State Road 52 and I-75 corridor.”
Just 2 miles from Interstate 75, the new facility will assist with Amazon logistics, according the news release announcing the project.
“This facility will feature linehaul trucks which will utilize the Interstate 75 corridor to bring shipments to locations across the southeast,” the release stated. “The most unique feature will be the approximately 180,000-square-foot mezzanine supporting a 100 percent robotics-based sorting system.”
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Such systems increase building capacity and the need to hire more workers to sustain the increased productivity levels.
“Amazon has created new roles within its sort centers for managing the robots and the specialists receive on-the-job training to learn how the robots work, how they’re programed and how they read and navigate the center floor,” according to the release.
“Given Eagle Industrial Park’s location and the availability of a quality workforce in the region, Pasco County was a natural fit for Amazon’s new sort center,” said Sam Blatt, economic development manager for Amazon, in the release.
“This is such a great win for the county in terms of investment and jobs, and we couldn’t be happier that they chose a site from our Ready Sites Program,” Cronin said. “The Ready Sites Program was created to help big projects like this close and locate quickly and that’s exactly what they are doing.”
Staff Writer C.T. Bowen contributed to this report