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N4T Investigators: Development plans for Amazon warehouse - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Development plans for Amazon warehouse

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TUCSON - A huge Amazon warehouse, is, according to numerous sources, coming here.  It would be built on the southeast side, near I-10 and S. Kolb Rd., in the Port of Tucson. The News 4 Tucson Investigators have obtained the official draft of the development plans for "Project Wildcat at Century Park." Drawn up by "Rick Engineering" of Tucson, the plans contain measurements similar to other Amazon facilities around the country: the warehouse and office would be 857,000 square feet. That's almost 20 acres. The most important numbers, not in the plans but from sources: the development would bring between 1500 and 2000 jobs here.

The plans list the developer as "Seefried Industrial Properties," which has a Phoenix office and has developed other Amazon buildings. According to a story; last week in the trade magazine, Arizona Builder's Exchange, the architect is Columbus, Oh. based "Ford & Associates Architects."  That firm has designed Amazon buildings in Brooklyn, N.Y and Winchester, Ky. Pima County public records show the property at the Port of Tucson is owned by Lucky Levin Railroad, LLC.

We wanted to ask county officials to expand upon the development plans for "Project wildcat" that we obtained, but no one would talk about it. And we mean no one. In fact, we were struck by how strongly and quickly they declined to comment. 

That's because non-disclosure agreements have been signed by the principals.

We called and emailed many of them. County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry emailed us saying, "No one will talk about it." An email from the spokesperson for Sun Corridor, a group that works on job and investment growth, says "Due to non-disclosure agreements and board policy on confidentiality, we are not able to share project information." Rick Engineering, Seefried Industrial Properties and Ford & Associates Architects did not return our calls. So, we filed a public records request with Pima County, seeking any and all documents mentioning Century Park and/or Amazon. The response: "Pima County has entered into a non-disclosure agreement with the developer of these properties and are in the process of notifying the company of the public records request. The company has 10 days from the date of notification to provide a court order protecting the information per the NDA." Of course, the county does not name the company.

Some attorneys we spoke with think the non-disclosure agreement violates Arizona's Public Records laws. Jon Riches, the Director of National Litigation with the Goldwater Institute, the conservative think-tank based in Phoenix, says, "A government agency or entity can't contract away the public's right to know by entering into a non-disclosure agreement with a private corporation.

However, sources say that no public funds are involved in this deal, that it's a privately-funded agreement between the developer and Amazon. But Riches says whether or not public money is used doesn't matter regarding public records requests, because the county is engaging in the public's business. He said, "You can't keep secret the public's business and the company, in this case, Amazon, should very well know that. If they're seeking to business with a government entity."

Sources say the Amazon warehouse/distribution center is scheduled to be completed by June of 2019. Aside from the argument regarding the non-disclosure agreement, if Amazon does come here, local leaders say it would be a huge boost for the area's economy, and, Tucson's image.

If you have a story you would like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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