by BRAD ROLLINS
Writing a big check it hopes Amazon.com will not wait to cash, the San Marcos City Council approved a package of economic development incentives aimed at landing a mammoth new distribution center and the hundreds of full-time jobs needed to make it go.
In addition to construction and startup investment estimated at $191 million, the Seattle-based Internet retailer will maintain a minimum of 350 full-time employees with an aggregate payroll of $11,284,000. Annual income per position works out to an average of $32,240, about $4,800 more than the city’s median annual household income of $27,444 as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau two years ago.
With last night’s 7-0 vote, the municipal government is now committed to a potential deal hammered out during nearly three months of negotiations between the Greater San Marcos Partnership, the city’s business retention and recruitment agent, and Amazon’s hired and in-house site selectors. Amazon, however, has not yet committed to the point they cannot back out and build elsewhere.
While San Marcos is at the top of a short-list that includes potential sites in at least three other states, Amazon executives will not make a final determination until sometime in August, Mayor Daniel Guerrero said.
“San Marcos is, at this point, the finalist. The vote this evening is just … one more step toward a celebration that we hope to be able to facilitate in the near future. The fact that we’re at this point of consideration as the finalist site is tremendous,” Guerrero said.
If Amazon does make a final decision to locate in San Marcos, the agreement requires the company to begin construction by the end of this year and complete construction by the end of next year. The 850,000-square-foot building — the footprint of which will be a little larger than that of Buckingham Palace — would be built on 101 acres on East McCarty Lane, the southern terminus of a planned loop skirting the city’s eastern edge.
The core of the ten-year agreement — a 40 percent city property tax rebate on Amazon’s real estate and an 85 percent city property tax rebate on its equipment and inventory — can be extended for an additional five years if Amazon builds and maintains a roster of at least 1,000 full-time employees. Indeed, at one point in last night’s meeting, Guerrero referred to “what will likely be well over 1,000 jobs over a number of years.”
While urging reticence until Amazon executives say they are all-in, the mayor could not fully conceal his ow elation about a potentially transformative new employer — one large enough to straddle the retail, technology and distribution economic sectors.
The city seems poised to start “attracting those large employers that can really provide a significant amount of boost to our economy from a tax base perspective [and] from a job creation perspective,” Guerrero said.
COVER: An Amazon fullfillment enter in the United Kingdom. PHOTO VIA FLICKR
CORRECTION 11:30 a.m. JULY 22:: An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated that the proposed Amazon.com distribution hub in San Marcos would cover an area about five times the size of the Pentagon’s footprint. The comparison was calculated in error using square yardage instead of square feet. At about 850,000 square feet, the proposed Amazon facility would be roughly the size of Buckingham Palace, the footprint of which covers about 830,000 square feet.