Massive warehouses to bring 1,200 jobs to east Pasco

Two warehouses, each more than 1 million square feet, will bring nearly 1,200 jobs to South Road 40 East, north of Sacajawea State Park in east Pasco.

Two industrial distribution centers, each more than 1 million square feet, are planned near Sacajawea State Park.

The Ryan Companies of Bellevue is developing the two facilities under separate code names, “Project Oyster” and “Project Pearl,” on either side of South Road 40 East near Lakeview Trailer Court. The sites are north of the state park in east Pasco.

The two warehouses will employ nearly 1,200, according to documents filed under Washington’s State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) that describe both in technical detail without identifying the tenant. It is common for large projects to operate under code names until the businesses behind them are ready to make public disclosures.

Ryan hasn’t identified its tenant, but three people with knowledge of the project referred to “Project Oyster” as a fulfillment center for Seattle-based Amazon Inc.

Marc Gearhart, vice president for real estate development for Ryan, said he could not comment by the deadline for this edition of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business. The tenant did not respond to questions submitted through Gearhart’s office.

The two projects will face one another across South Road 40 East and are similar in most respects.

“Oyster” is on the east side of Road 40 and construction has started. “Pearl” is on the west and construction has not started.

SEPA approvals were issued in May and June, and the city of Pasco issued permits for excavation and foundation work for Project Oyster.

Project Oyster will be a distribution warehouse with 1,080,500 square feet on 162 acres. It will have a 35,000-square-foot office, 1,020 vehicle parking spots and 390 semitruck parking spots. It will employ 683 people working in two shifts.

Project Pearl will be slightly smaller, with 1,049,760 million square feet. A rail spur runs along the southern boundary of its 104-acre site but stops at Road 40 and doesn’t extend to the Oyster site.

It will have 110 loading docks, 304 trailer parking stalls, 48 box truck parking stalls, 48 van parking stalls and 54 parking stalls. It will employ 500 people working in two shifts.

While Amazon has not announced new fulfillment centers, it is the most active user of plus-sized industrial facilities, according to the editor of Site Selection magazine, a Peachtree Corners, Georgia-based publication that has tracked 10,000 warehouse and distribution center projects since January 2016.

Nearly 40% of the projects in its database were 100,000 square feet or more. Of those, 300 were 1 million square feet or larger. Amazon was the name most commonly associated with those projects, “by a long shot,” the editor said.

The Amazon investor relations office did not respond to a request for comment.

Projects Oyster and Pearl are the latest in a string of major investments in Pasco in the past two months. Darigold Inc., Reser’s Fine Foods and Local Bounti all disclosed plans for major new operations, cementing Pasco’s status as a major center for food processing and warehousing.

But with a combined footprint of about 700,000, they are dwarfed by Projects Oyster and Pearl.

Preferred Freezer Services on Poplar Way in north Richland has 470,000 square feet of floor space in its five freezers, though the facilities aren’t comparable since freezer space is measured in volume rather than area.

Washington’s largest industrial building is the Boeing 747 plant in Everett, which has a reported 4.3 million square feet.

Both Pasco projects are described in technical detail in documents submitted to the city and for review under SEPA.

No documents identify the tenant and city officials were careful to refer to them by their code names and the developer’s name, “Ryan.”

The Tri-City Development Council said it is not involved in the projects.

A site plan for Project Oyster, created by Langan Engineering and Environmental Services in Seattle, indicates the building with a north-south alignment. The team includes the two longtime owners of the 10 parcels that comprise the site.

Pasco-based Columbia East LLC, which is led by Robert Tippett, owns seven parcels and Spokane-based Wilson Sisters LLC owns the three. Franklin County values the 10 undeveloped parcels at $2.5 million for property tax purposes. Tippett could not be reached for comment.

Bioinfiltration ponds will flank the building to the east and west, guard houses to the north and south. The Snake River is close by, near its confluence with the Columbia River. Portland-based MacKenzie Architecture Engineering & Design is the architect and could not be reached for comment.

Both warehouses will be constructed from precast concrete and will be 55 feet and 50 feet at their highest points, respectively.

The developments sites are nearly a mile from the nearest Ben Franklin Transit stop, meaning workers likely will drive to work.

Semitruck traffic will enter from Highway 12 via East A Street and South Road 40. The project anticipates a new traffic signal at the Road 40 East and A Street intersections, as well as a deceleration lane on the southbound lane of Highway 12 at East A Street.

Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell said the city is discussing wider area road improvements with Ryan, the developer.

Project Oyster is expected to generate more than 1,700 weekday trips, with peak traffic volumes between 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. in the evening. Truck trips will account for 16% of total daily trips. The environmental checklist indicates it will generate 726 vehicle trips each day and 864 daily truck trips.

Project Pearl will have a similar impact and is expected to generate 719 non-truck vehicle trips per day and 354 truck trips.

The sites will be served by Franklin County PUD, Cascade Natural Gas and Pasco city water and sewer. Temporary utilities will be extended for construction.

When built, Project Pearl will occupy a single parcel owned by Columbia East and assessed at about $1 million.

Both projects will include sound walls to reduce the noise on neighboring properties.

Both sites include active agriculture. Project Oyster will eliminate one and a half irrigated farm circles. Project Pearl will eliminate one.

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