Landing the Amazon facility: Third time's a charm for Pflugerville

The 3.8 million-square-foot fulfillment center is expected to employ a minimum 1,000 employees once online, with plans to seek out local and regional employment in late spring. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
The 3.8 million-square-foot fulfillment center is expected to employ a minimum 1,000 employees once online, with plans to seek out local and regional employment in late spring. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

The 3.8 million-square-foot fulfillment center is expected to employ a minimum 1,000 employees once online, with plans to seek out local and regional employment in late spring. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

When Amy Madison first joined the Pflugerville Community Development Corp. as executive director in 2014, she immediately began looking for opportunities to bring an Amazon facility to Pflugerville. In June 2018, Madison began working alongside an Amazon site selection team to find a plot of land best fit for the job.

Three site proposals later, the future facility found its match along Pecan Street, and Project Charm was formally launched.

"As in, third time's the charm," Madison said.

The PCDC hosted a behind-the-scenes panel Jan. 21 into the development process for the upcoming 3.8 million-square-foot facility, set to launch by early fall. The fulfillment center is expected to employ a minimum 1,000 employees once it is online, with plans to seek out local and regional employment in late spring.

Key players behind the development who were present at the Jan. 21 panel include Jessica Breaux, economic development manager at Amazon; Jonathan Stites, senior vice president for the Texas region of Seefried Industrial Properties; and Tim Timmerman, a real estate developer and investor behind Timmerman Properties and original property owner of the project site.


Scaling operations

Each Amazon project operates at its own size, scope, scale and functionality in the company's network, Stites said. Key features that attracted Amazon to the project's current location along Pecan included its vicinity to SH 130, proximity to Central Texas' labor force, and willing partnerships in both city leadership and the land seller.

Once constructing a project timeline and settling on a targeted opening date, Stites said collaboration is key in making sure the project progresses smoothly and meets its goals.

"The funny thing about Amazon is the end date doesn't change," Stites said.

Madison and Stites each referred to Pflugerville's fulfillment center as the "crown jewel" of Amazon fulfillment operations. Stites referred to the upcoming Pflugerville site as an Amazon robotics location, a fulfillment center designed to handle any materials or products smaller than "the size of a microwave."

“It’s literally like a factory of packages and package distribution," Stites said.

Out for delivery

As the project gears up for its launch in mid-2021, Breaux said the facility anticipates to be fully online and operational ahead of the 2021 holiday season, a peak production time for Amazon. Hiring processes will begin about six to eight weeks prior to opening day, she added.

Breaux said the vast majority of employees will be hired locally or regionally. Both Amazon and the PCDC will collaborate with job boards like Workforce Solutions Capital Area to assist with hiring fairs and recruitment processes.

Facility jobs begin at a minimum of $15 per hour with full benefits and will range from packing and preparation roles all the way to general operations, human resources and business planning positions.

From a transportation standpoint, Stites said the facility will stagger shift times on the site in addition to roadway improvements underway along Pecan and near the SH 130 corridor. The facility's primary goal is to not only be operationally effective, but to be a good neighbor to the community, he added.

Shifting landscapes

Timmerman's family has been a staple in the Pflugerville community for more than 100 years. The Pfluger family settled in the region in the mid-1800s; the Timmerman family married into the Pfluger family in the early 1900s.

When considering the prospect of selling this portion of his family property, Timmerman said he was extremely preferential on what the land's future use would be. His family's house sits adjacent to the upcoming facility, and he wanted the land's use to help move the city forward in a positive direction.

"I wanted something special to happen to it," Timmerman said.

As vehicles pass along SH 130 from either direction, the project can be seen rising over former cornfields, altering the city's skyline, Timmerman said.

"It's an amazing site," Timmerman said. "I think it's going to be a great member of the community for years to come."

When Madison first began communicating the conceptual scope of the project to city staff, Mayor Victor Gonzales said it was something beyond what he previously could have imagined. He said he used to fish in a pond behind the Timmerman home; to see a project of this magnitude come to fruition has been an unprecedented transition.

"To see it transition from what it used to be and what I knew it to be ... it's a wow factor," Gonzales said.
By Kelsey Thompson
Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from Upstate New York, Kelsey relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.


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