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Planning Commission approves massive fulfillment center

Duke Realty proposes 1M square foot facility east of airport

City Hall

The Hollister Planning Commission unanimously and enthusiastically approved a permit for a 1,049,760-square-foot fulfillment and distribution warehouse proposed near the airport.

A representative of Duke Realty, the project applicant, said the tenant for the warehouse is “a major internet retailer” when asked by Planning Commissioner David Huboi at the Jan. 13 meeting. Duke Realty declined to name the tenant, though the project description bears similar characteristics to facilities recently occupied or built by Amazon. 

The fulfillment and distribution center is proposed on a 72.5-acre property west of San Felipe Road, about one mile north of the intersection of Fallon Road. The site is located in the city’s Industrial Business Park zoning district and the Airport Support Zoning Districts of the City of Hollister.

The height of the warehouse’s proposed concrete tilt-up structure is 53 feet, 8 inches, according to city staff.

The city staff report described the project as “a proposed E-Commerce fulfillment center and distribution facility.”

“The site will receive items from a variety of sources and the fulfillment center function will send products from the site via line haul tractor trailers to other distribution facilities within their network where the product will be delivered to consumers,” says the city staff report.

The “delivery or distribution function” of the site will deliver products to consumers via box trucks and delivery vans to addresses within the facility’s service area, which is about a 50-mile radius from the property, city staff added.

Products to be shipped in and out of the facility include furniture and appliances, says the staff report.

The fulfillment and distribution functions of the facility are planned to operate on differing schedules to minimize rush-hour traffic impacts and prevent the site from becoming a bottleneck, Hollister Associate Planner Abraham Prado explained at the Jan. 13 commission meeting.

One of the highlights of the project, from City Hall’s perspective, is the new jobs that it proposes to bring to Hollister. The proposed warehouse plans to employ at least 449 people, Prado said.

“This would be one of the largest buildings in Hollister, with a large operational workforce,” Prado said. “The General Plan plans for industrial uses in this area of the city, close to the airport. This is a highly important development for the city, and hopefully it can set a trend to encourage other industrial businesses to come to Hollister.”

The property and surrounding parcels were the subject of an Environmental Impact Report in 2000. Prado said the EIR still applies to the warehouse proposal because the studied land uses haven’t changed since 2000.

Still, in 2018, the city completed an “addendum” to the EIR, which the commission approved on a 4-0 vote at the Jan. 13 meeting.

The commission also unanimously approved the requested conditional use permit.

“I agree this could be good for the city, providing jobs and tax revenue,” Huboi said. “Finally there’s some activity out there” at the airport business park, he added.

Commissioner Luke Corona added that the proposed project will give many local residents a chance to work closer to home, thereby reducing commuter traffic on roads coming in and out of Hollister.

On the subject of traffic, Prado said the fulfillment portion of the site would see about 100 tractor-trailers entering and exiting daily. For the deliver/distribution portion, up to 80 box trucks and vans would enter and exit the property daily.

However, Prado noted that the majority of truck and van traffic associated with the site would occur during non-peak hours when there is less commuter and local traffic on surrounding streets.

Commissioner Roxanne Stephens noted that the site will be on the “outskirts of town” where traffic impacts will likely be minimal.

“The goal is to have the local jobs so that residents are not commuting so much outside our community, and that will help with some of our traffic problems,” Stephens said.

Prado added that the project applicant has proposed a total of 994 parking spaces for trucks, vans and employee vehicles. The proposal includes about 20,000 square feet of office space.

Landscaping will cover about 571,000 square feet, or about 19% of the property, according to the applicant’s plans.

In 2021, Amazon moved into a new delivery center just on the other side of the airport, on Flynn Road. That facility is 129,540 square feet and 44 feet high.

The applicant for the facility approved last week by the planning commission is still working with the Airport Land Use Commission for further approvals, according to city staff.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said the proposed 1.05 million square foot facility is exactly the kind of development he would like to see more of.

“I’ve been pushing on bringing in commercial, industry and retail…rather than bring in new homes,” Velazquez said. “It takes traffic off the major highways and lets residents have a better quality of life.”