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Developers of a proposed massive distribution center discuss their plans with the Gaines Township Planning Commission officials.  Developers of a proposed massive distribution center discuss their plans with the Gaines Township Planning Commission officials. Photo by Nick Manes

Atlanta firm identified as developer of reported Amazon distribution center

BY Thursday, March 22, 2018 08:37pm

GAINES TOWNSHIP –– An industrial property firm with ties to retailer Amazon.com Inc. is the developer behind “Project Rapids,” a massive fulfillment center proposed for southern Kent County.

Executives of Atlanta, Ga.-based Seefried Industrial Properties Inc. told Gaines Township planning commissioners on Thursday that they hope to break ground on the proposed 855,000-square-foot, two-story facility in June. Seefried officials said they would work on an approximately 13-month construction schedule, while continuing to work with the township around areas such as parking and truck screening.

Seefried executives Dave Riefe and Larry Spysinski did not specifically mention Amazon during the planning commission meeting. Even so, their firm has a history of working with the Seattle-based retailer, having built at least seven distribution centers of over one million square feet for the online retailer, according to the property developer’s website.

MiBiz first broke news of the proposed development earlier this week.

Asked by reporters following the meeting, Riefe declined to confirm Amazon as the tenant and would not disclose a timeframe in which a tenant would be named, saying only that officials with the project would be back before the township in April when it goes befores the township board for additional approvals.

Between now and then, executives associated with the project say they continue to work to address a variety of concerns such as traffic associated with the facility, which is expected to have 2,700 parking spaces, as well as issues around lighting and noise from trucks.

“We recognize that we need to come back and (address) some major concerns from a facility of this size…” Spysinski, Seefried’s vice president of development, told planning commissioners.

Township officials on Thursday night took a first step in moving the project forward, voting unanimously in favor of rezoning the roughly 300 acres of Steelcase Inc.-owned property along 68th Street in between Patterson and East Paris Avenues.

Ultimately, Gaines Township officials said, even if the Seefried Industrial Properties proposal never comes to fruition, getting those approximately 300 acres rezoned for future development is a priority.

“Part of this process is doing a zoning map change,” said Mark Sisson, Gaines Township planner. “Irregardless of whether we move forward with Project Rapids, that we move forward with the (planned unit development change) is more or less a housekeeping chore.”

The meeting also revealed Meriden, Conn.-based BL Companies as a participant in the project. The multi-disciplinary architecture, engineering, environmental and land surveying firm that has done several large projects for Whole Foods Markets, an Amazon subsidiary, as well as multiple large distribution facilities for FedEx.

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