Amazon takes the first steps to develop a 3.2-million square-foot sorting facility in Atlanta

Amazon is developing a facility in northwest Georgia. GARY HIGGINS / BOSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL

Amazon began building its first slate of multistory distribution centers in 2019. Multistory warehouses provide developers an opportunity to maximize square footage in areas with higher property costs or scarcities of land.

But these structures are often more expensive to build. 

The rise of e-commerce sales during the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated demand for industrial properties. Amazon, by far Atlanta’s largest e-commerce company, has been adding millions of square feet, fueling much of the record absorption of industrial space. The Atlanta industrial market ended the year with a record level of positive absorption, surpassing the previous high with over 25 million square feet, according to Colliers.

Manufacturers are expected to continue their mad dash toward vacant industrial land or existing warehouse space in 2022, with commercial real estate services company CBRE predicting rents will increase, vacancy rates will decline and labor markets will further lighten.

Amazon is taking the first steps to develop a 3.2-million square-foot sorting facility about an hour north of Atlanta, according to Bizjournals. Services purchased about 80 acres in Bartow County for the 5-story project, according to county property records. It’s the first chunk of land needed to build the sorting facility. For perspective on how much demand for space is shifting in the era of e-commerce, the Amazon project is equal in scale to at least two regional malls.

Amazon paid $17.6 million, or around $220,000 per acre, to acquire the site, property records show. The deal closed in December. Typically, land sales average around $60,000 to $80,000 per acre in Bartow County. Amazon paid almost three times that amount.

LakePoint Land, an arm of the company behind a 1,300-acre youth sports campus, was the seller. The land is next to LakePoint sporting community, where many of the country’s top college baseball prospects play tournaments.

The project would rise on Lakepoint Parkway, where Amazon has planned the development since last February.

Amazon is working with TPA Ventures to build the project, said Emerson City Manager Kevin McBurnett. Amazon paid a premium for the undeveloped land in Bartow County. However, the site has existing infrastructure, likely making it more valuable, said Scott Amoson, vice president and director of research at Colliers International-Atlanta. 

The project will contain 57 loading docks and require additional infrastructural improvements. The slated completion date is August 2022, according to a filing with the state Development of Regional Impact program. A DRI allows state planning and transportation officials to get involved when a project is large enough to put stress on local traffic and infrastructure.


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