An Amazon distribution center could be up and running in Smokey Point before the end of the year, potentially bringing a significant number of new jobs to the area.
On April 8, Amazon revealed they were behind the new development that is coming in at 4620 172nd St. NE, Arlington.
The property was given an emergency re-zone to allow light industrial facilities on the land last year, and was originally zoned for ‘highway commercial,’ a type of land use that allows commercial space and heavy car transit such as the neighboring Smokey Point Walmart location.
Amazon officials say that more than 1,000 full-time employees could work at the 600,000 square-foot facility.
Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said the economic injection into Smokey Point could help the area recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“As I work with the community and we recovery from the pandemic, I am working with the Arlington Community Resource Center and others,” she said. “From what I hear, one of the things that is always on the top of the list for needs is good-paying jobs."
The Amazon jobs have a starting wage of $15 per hour with benefits including medical, vision and dental.
Tolbert said it was the largest expansion of jobs in a community she has seen as mayor from a single source.
“A single development is not going to bring in 1,000 jobs to a city usually,” she said.
Tolbert said the current traffic work being done will help in addressing the additional traffic.
In addition, Amazon is developing a few local traffic improvement projects in lieu of paying the typical mitigation fees.
“They are putting in a new road in the back of the project, as well, that will help them connect to I-5,” said Tolbert.
Adding alternate routes is often an effective approach to alleviating traffic, she said.
“The developer is also going to put in a roundabout by 43rd Street,” said Tolbert.
The city’s other traffic improvements are also closer to fruition as 172nd Street will be receiving extra lanes in the area where it is only two lanes currently.
“The expansion of the roadway is still on the way and scheduled for next year,” said Tolbert.
City officials are also working with Community Transit to create new bus routes along 172nd Street. There are portions of the road which do not have any buses currently.
“That will allow for additional ways to connect to that workplace without relying on the single-person car,” said Tolbert.
She said the current plan will increase traffic capacity for Smokey Point, but could not predict how significantly the traffic will be affected in the area as a whole as there is a lot of growth predicted for that area that is not just from Amazon.
“Amazon is not the only development coming into the area,” said Tolbert.
Marc Hayes, director of Community and Economic Development for Arlington also believes that housing growth will be sufficient to meet the needs of the incoming workforce.
“We’re pretty much on track to meet the housing demand with what is currently under construction and what has been proposed,” he said.
There are 500 units of housing, along with mixed-use development that could house offices and retail space in the future nearby to the Amazon distribution center.
“We have an urban village development that is right next to the center for this very reason,” said Hayes. “That really allows you the ability to walk to work there."
Hayes pointed to other developments such as one planned for 204th Street and 150 townhomes being planned for the city.
“We’ll have a pretty good variety of housing types over the next three to five years,” said Hayes.
He said there are proposals for smaller single-family homes and “missing middle” type housing such as duplexes, triplexes and garden-style apartments that are moving forward in the city.
The smaller footprint properties are affordable to younger generations and low-income residents who are often priced out of the typical single-family home.
The Amazon distribution center is coming into the Cascade Industrial Center, a Marysville/Arlington project meant to bring industrial jobs to the Smokey Point area.
“Obviously with Amazon being interested it’s going well so far,” said Tolbert.
Other businesses, such as an electric aviation company, have also brought some jobs to the area.
“There’s a lot of interest from high-tech, which is good because those companies often bring in good-paying jobs,” said Tolbert.
Amazon plans to start hiring for their distribution center later this year. Applications will be online.