Amazon Goodyear

An Amazon facility on South Bullard Avenue near West Yuma Road is open, with humans working alongside robotic devices in a “fulfillment center.” This is just one of nearly a dozen warehouse-sized facilities being built in a neighborhood that is the epicenter of Goodyear commercial growth.

While farm-to-table is big in many parts of the country, in Goodyear the trend is farm-to-warehouse.

While the city wins awards for business development, some residents are concerned.

The West Valley View’s Facebook posts on Amazon and other commercial projects were greeted by mixed comments.

“Very exciting that more jobs are coming for people who need them!” said Vicki Vasquez.

While several joined her in praising the development, others bemoaned the rapid growth of Goodyear industrial operations.

“Stop with all the warehouses!” cried Robert Cunningham. “Listen to your citizens, city of Goodyear, we do not want industrial buildings all over!”

Yet developers seem to be humming a Bachman Turner Overdrive tune: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.”

 That hit was released in 1974, when Goodyear had a smattering of warehouses surrounded by massive farms. In the next year, the “flip” of that will be nearing realization, as more farms give way to shipping and other “light industrial” operations.

While the Amazon robotic-assisted fulfillment center on South Bullard Avenue and West Yuma Road is already up and running, an even larger cross-dock shipping facility Amazon calls “Project Hustle” is sinking foundations into farmland just west of the Loop 303, on Indian School Road and Cotton Lane.

Even so, Amazon may turn out to be a small piece as Goodyear Economic Development fills in the puzzle of the city’s explosive growth.

While first in, the opening of Amazon here is hardly the completion of the Prologis Business Park it anchors.

Prologis, a California-based industrial real estate company, purchased 114 acres and successfully petitioned Goodyear City Council for rezoning from agricultural to light industrial — “farm-to-warehouse” — in December 2018.

It plans to develop 2.3 million square feet of industrial space. The Amazon facility is about one third of that.

Construction is under way for the second phase, though a tenant has not been announced.

Initial Prologis plans presented to city council called for six to 10 buildings.

And Prologis is just one piece of a larger puzzle in a square bordered by Van Buren and Yuma to the north and south and Bullard and Litchfield to the west and east.

“Amazon joins Compass and Vantage Data Centers as the first premier brands to locate in the heart of Goodyear’s Technology Corridor,” crowed a post on the Goodyear Economic Development website.

Just north of the Prologis park is another project that recently completed: The Hub at Goodyear, described by the city as “a  speculative development located on approximately 43 acres.”

The cross-dock transportation facility is 40 feet high, with “speed bays add to loading and unloading efficiencies.”

The Hub has been finished for a few months, but is still seeking a tenant.

Goodyear’s Economic Development site notes the HUB has enticing features: “It is also Foreign Trade Zone capable — representing as much as a 72% reduction in real and personal property (equipment) tax — and sits within an Opportunity Zone, providing numerous capital gains tax incentives.”

The same incentives are available to its neighbors, such as the enormous facility being built across Bullard Avenue.

The construction site on the west side of Bullard is a Compass data center, which will have eight buildings on 225 acres.

According to the company’s “Learn the story behind Goodyear” section of  its website, “In 2016, Compass was searching for a site to service the West Coast – other than the Bay Area. After examining several emerging areas, like Hillsboro, Oregon and Reno, Nevada, we found the ideal location outside Phoenix, Arizona.

“The western suburb of Goodyear provided the land and infrastructure we needed to support hyperscalers seeking capacity in the western U.S. Our decision was quickly validated when multiple cloud providers chose to build their latest campuses in Goodyear within a year of our arrival. This area is now second in the country, behind Northern Virginia, in terms of capacity under construction.”

Indeed, Stream and Microsoft are building huge data centers 3 miles south of Compass, on the other side of Phoenix Goodyear Airport.

While the Compass data center might be better described as farm-to-tech, yet another farm-to-warehouse is also nearing completion nearby.

Less than a mile from the Hub, VB/143 is a cross-dock facility at Van Buren Street and 143rd Avenue. It has two completed warehouse buildings, with a total of nearly 330,000 square feet.

At  143rd Avenue and Yuma Road, Quetico is building a 719,00 square-foot industrial logistics building “comprised of warehouse and office space,” according to the Goodyear Economic Development Department.

Quetico expects to hire 300 full-time employees here.

“Goodyear just made sense,” said Tom Fenchel, CEO of Quetico Logistics, in a mid-2019 press release. “The location is near the Phoenix–Goodyear Airport and major interstates with coast-to-coast connectivity. The site has Foreign Trade Zone possibilities which, combined with the competitive cost of doing business in Arizona, made our decision easy.”

Just north of the Quetico building is Chewy’s 800,000 square foot distribution hub, which opened last year. The pet food company says it will hire 700 to 1,200 full-time workers here over five years.

Amazon on time

“By 2021, Amazon will be Goodyear’s largest employer with nearly 3,000 total employees,” said a city press release in August.

The robotics facility was scheduled to be open “by the end of the year.”

As millions of customers can attest, Amazon is good at meeting deadlines.

It beat this one, with the robotics facility up and running last week. A sprawling parking lot was nearly full on a recent morning, with the telltale food truck waiting for hungry workers on break.

“Our Goodyear fulfillment center at Bullard and Yuma is open and they’re still hiring,” said Lisa Guinn, an Amazon spokeswoman.

She said interested candidates can visit to apply for full-time, part-time and seasonal positions in Goodyear (pay starts at $15 per hour). 

According to an Amazon press release last month, “Employees at this facility will work alongside innovative technologies, including Amazon robotics, to pick, pack and ship small items to customers.”

Amazon also has a corporate support center in Goodyear, a delivery station at Litchfield Road and Grant Street (not far from the new robotics facility) and a fulfillment center at Cotton Lane and Commerce Drive. 

As the city of Goodyear continues to recruit corporations and win business awards, some long-time residents worry about what Goodyear is becoming.

Responding to a West Valley View Facebook post on one of the recent developments, Elizabeth Brouhard- Welchman complained, “This is ridiculous. Are they trying to turn this town into Phoenix or Southern California?”

“Traffic is already horrible,” said Judy Lynn. “But I guess the city doesn’t care about what the citizens of Goodyear think, want or need?"