The world’s largest online retailer has big plans for a massive warehouse in Livermore — but has little to report right now.
Amazon last week announced plans for a new distribution center to open somewhere in Livermore next year. The announcement followed news reports that Amazon signed a lease for the 600,000 square-foot former Circuit City distribution center at 400 Longfellow Court, south of Interstate 580 near the Vasco Road interchange.
The sprawling warehouse, known as the Longfellow Logistics Center, sits on more than 34 acres. It was constructed in 1998 by IDI Logistics as a built-to-suit distribution center for Circuit City. The electronics retail chain operated the center there until collapsing into bankruptcy and liquidation in 2009. For the last decade, it has been leased periodically to tenants. It is currently empty.
“We’re always happy about putting existing vacant warehouses to productive use and to provide hundreds of jobs for our residents,” said Adam Van de Water, director of Livermore’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development.
Van de Water said Amazon has not yet come to the city for business permits. Based on an assumed industry average of one worker for every 1,000 square feet, Van de Water said the operation could support up to 600 jobs.
The Longfellow center was purchased for $66 million by Bay Area-based developer Orchard Partners in September 2017.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to share any details about the distribution center, including the number of employees it expects to hire or salary ranges, or when it hopes to open.
“Amazon’s Delivery Stations have a starting pay of at least $15 per hour,” said Shone Jemmott, a company spokeswoman, “…[W]e don’t have any additional details to share at this time, but I can certainly let you know if that changes.”
California’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $15 for all employers by Jan. 1, 2023. In the Bay Area, several cities have already increased their minimum wages at or above the $15 mark. Belmont and Redwood City will be the latest to do so in January 2020.
Livermore’s location provides a convenient link between the Central Valley and the inner-Bay Area, which makes it an ideal place to locate distribution centers. Electric carmaker Tesla currently leases 1.3 million square feet of warehouse space across three buildings at the Oaks Logistics Center on Discovery Drive near the Livermore Municipal Airport.
City Councilwoman Trish Munro, speaking at Monday night’s council meeting, expressed concern about the news. She said distribution centers tend to pay low taxes to local governments, they increase traffic and air pollution and provide low quality jobs.
With the council’s approval, she asked city staff to review the city’s long-range development plans and regulations for industrial zones, to see whether changes can help prevent Livermore from becoming a magnet for more distribution centers.
“Is that really the kind of business we want to encourage? Is this really what our heart and soul is?” she asked. “Amazon is here, but that doesn’t mean I really want to encourage other distribution centers,” she said. “I would rather make sure that Livermore is taking charge of our own future than having it imposed upon us.”