Construction underway on first Amazon distribution center in Upstate New York
Syracuse, N.Y. -- If anyone thought a gigantic distribution center proposed in Clay is only a backup plan for Amazon in case a similar center near Albany doesn’t work out, they should think again.
Construction of Amazon’s first distribution center in Upstate New York is literally plowing ahead despite a legal challenge from homeowners opposed to the 1-million-square-foot facility.
The builder of the center, Indianapolis-based Scannell Properties, has cleared land off Route 9 in the town of Schodack, 10 miles southeast of Albany, and has been pouring concrete for its foundation for the last three weeks.
The builder did hit a snag this month when it had to delay plans to blast away bedrock due to a Rensselaer County law that requires a 45-day notice before any blasting, according to an Albany Times-Union article Monday.
Trammell Crow Inc. has proposed building an even bigger distribution center on a 111-acre site currently occupied by the Liverpool Public Golf and Country Club on Morgan Road in Clay, just north of the village of Liverpool.
Dallas-based Trammell has not disclosed the name of the end user for the $280 million facility, saying only that it would be an e-commerce or retail company. But logistics experts say it is likely Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer.
Trammell has described the project as “speculative," leading some observers to speculate that it may be a backup plan if things don’t work out in Schodack. But that does not look like it’s the case.
“I would say it’s not a backup, because they’re in the ground here,” said Schodack Town Supervisor David Harris.
Amazon has been on a push to build distribution centers throughout the country to help meet its goal of providing free one-day delivery to its Amazon Prime members.
The Amazon center under construction in Schodack has many similarities to the distribution center planned in Clay.
Both are close to the state Thruway. The Clay project would be built on a 111-acre property, while the Schodack site spans 116 acres.
The Schodack plant will employ 800 people, while the Clay facility would employ 1,000. Pay levels would be similar, starting at around $30,000 for most workers.
Scannell also called its project “speculative,” until later acknowledging the tenant will be Amazon. Both projects are expected to be highly automated, with robots bringing products to humans for packaging.
At 820,000 square feet, the facility in Clay would have a slightly smaller ground-floor footprint than the center in Schodack. However, the building in Clay would have a total of 3.7 million square feet of floor space because it would have a mezzanine level and four floors above that, while the Schodack center will be a single story.
A group of homeowners near the Schodack site filed a lawsuit to overturn the Schodack Planning Board’s July 2018 approval of the $100 million project.
Bob Jansing, a spokesman for the homeowners, said residents are concerned about traffic and noise from the center, as well as potential groundwater pollution.
“This is being built on top of an aquifer,” he said. “We all have private wells.”
The group is demanding that the town require Scannell to submit an environmental impact statement. The town contends it conducted a proper review and that an environmental impact statement, which can be costly and lengthy to prepare, was not necessary.
A state Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuit in January. The homeowners have appealed to the Appellate Division, which is expected to hear oral arguments in the case in October. The court has refused to issue an injunction against the project pending its decision on the appeal.
Jansing said homeowners are confident they have a strong case and will prevail.
“I have full faith in our judicial system,” he said.
Harris said he is confident the court will uphold the Planning Board’s decision not to require an environmental impact statement.
“It was not required,” he said. “We’ve done our homework.”
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