Plans underway for a new Amazon installation in Woodburn

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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) – The road from Amazon to Woodburn has seen many changes over the years, both figuratively and literally.

These changes will accelerate in the weeks and months to come as the company begins work on a schedule that envisions the 5-story, 3.85 million square foot distribution center on 90 acres of industrial land at the west of Woodburn, which will open in the spring of 2023.

In the wake of the project’s approval by the Woodburn Planning Commission on September 22, Woodburn Community Development Director Chris Kerr briefed city officials not only on the hearings and discrepancies paving the way for Amazon , but also crucial bases which allowed this project to materialize for a long time. even before Amazon is in the game.

Anyone who has driven by or around this part of Butteville Road near its intersection with Highway 219 cannot help but notice the massive movement of earth and the towering assemblies of recently erected construction infrastructure.

Going forward this month, the focus will be on footings and foundations, which involves a lot of concrete work, enough that construction plans require concrete mixing in place rather than rolling. concrete trucks on site every hour.

Vertical construction is expected to begin in January, and subsequent March plans are to move forward with off-site construction, the centerpiece of which is a roundabout to direct traffic from Newberg Highway and Butteville Road, replacing the current one. , awkward, limited – crossroads of visibility.

Kerr said the roundabout will be the domino that will trigger the implementation of the rest of the plans for the project.

“That was definitely the biggest problem that was hindering the development of this site,” Kerr told Woodburn City Council on September 27.

The often tricky intersection of Butteville Road and Newberg Highway 219 will be revamped, moving Butteville Road east and installing a roundabout to ensure smooth traffic as part of the construction of Amazon’s fulfillment center. (Town of Woodburn)

The Amazon building will face west and have four aisles, all entering and exiting Butteville Road. The current intersection of the nearby road with Hwy 219 is tricky, especially for westbound traffic from the 219 towards Butteville, which provides dangerously limited visibility as the 219 turns north .

The roundabout will eventually shift this route, as Amazon plans to make the necessary changes to its terrain, redirecting Butteville Road slightly eastwards where it will build the $ 9 million to $ 10 million roundabout to ensure more traffic. fluid in all directions of the intersection of two roads.

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This is the change of course ahead. But looking back, Kerr pointed out the major improvements, costing around $ 70 million, to the I-5 interchange that took place to make it all plausible today. Woodburn contributed approximately $ 8 million to this project.

Other changes that enabled this included the expansion of Woodburn’s urban growth boundaries in 2016, targeting this land for industrial users of large lots with high employment rates. The city annexed the land a year later.

The city also changed its long-term comprehensive plan, transportation systems plan, utility plan, and zoning codes. These have advanced on a vision that city officials call the Southwest Industrial Reserve (SWIR), the details of which recently fell into place more clearly when Amazon became interested.

“The town has really done a lot of groundwork for the development of this property,” Kerr told Woodburn City Council.

“I know it sounds weird, I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s very weird to see any long term plans align with the development that is really happening – almost exactly what you are looking for. And I’m happy to see it happen.

Ease

Amazon, which currently employs about 13,000 people in Oregon, announced plans to build in Woodburn last June. Company officials originally predicted the facility would provide approximately 1,500 full-time jobs for employees who would pick, pack and ship orders to customers living in the region generally. More recent estimates indicate two shifts, with around 937 workers on each shift.

“We are excited to open a new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center in the town of Woodburn,” said Alicia Boler Davis, global vice president of customer management at Amazon. “Woodburn and the surrounding communities of Marion County provide a talented workforce, and we look forward to expanding employment beyond the more than 13,000 employees who already serve customers in the area. “

When the project was announced, Woodburn Town Manager Scott Derickson explained what Kerr illustrated in his September 27 presentation.

“Woodburn has been planning major residential and industrial development projects for many years that will improve the community,” said Derickson. “We are delighted to see that the investments the city has made to expand the limits of urban growth, complete improvements to the transportation system and expand access to affordable housing are now starting to attract the private sector capital needed to develop projects that offer economic stability and significant employment opportunities. for residents of Woodburn.

One of the derogations from the city code granted by the town planning commission concerned vegetation. Kerr noted that Amazon will adorn the causeway accessing the five-story building with a tall, 1-by-30-foot canopy, at least three different species, at least one of which must be conifer / evergreen. There are also provisions for additional shrubs, creating an improved landscape.

Other conditions of approval included sidewalks, traffic studies, transit service to SWIR, improvements to the Butteville and Parr road intersections, and special driveway access arrangements for area residents. .

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