Amazon looking to build massive distribution center in Johnston


JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Documents show the town of Johnston is offering online retail giant a 20-year tax break as part of an agreement to construct a nearly 4-million-square-foot distribution center off of Route 6.

Documents outlining the proposed property tax break, which were filed to the secretary of state’s office and made public late last week, confirm rumors that Amazon is behind the proposed facility, which would be located on approximately 195 acres of land off of a busy section of Hartford Avenue near I-295.

The Johnston Planning Board unanimously approved the development during a special hearing in July.

Documents show Amazon plans to spend about $290 million to build the facility, saying it will employ about 1,500 full-time workers.

During the July hearing, an attorney representing the property group behind the project estimated there would be anywhere between 400-500 tractor-trailers coming and going throughout the course of a day.

The proposed warehouse has raised concerns with residents, who fear the facility may have a negative impact on area traffic and the environment.

As part of the agreement, Amazon will funnel millions in investments into the town and the state, including funding for road work, public safety, Rhode Island’s small business assistance program, and various Johnston programs.

Per the proposed community partnership agreement, Amazon would invest:

  • Up to $1 million for road work and traffic mitigation, based on a study funded by the company
  • $582,500 per year to fund a Johnston High School Pathway Program, including an Amazon “P-Tech” program
  • $1.25 million over five years for Rhode Island Municipal Training and Education Initiatives
  • $5.38 million over ten years for Johnston public safety
  • $50,000 for Johnston youth sports
  • $100,000 for the Johnston Senior Center
  • $250,000 for the Johnston Municipal Land Trust
  • $100,000 for Johnston Memorial Park
  • $2.75 million over five years for Rhode Island’s Small Business Assistance Program

The Johnston Town Council will be holding a special meeting and public hearing on the proposal on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at the high school starting at 7 p.m.

The Johnston Town Council still needs to sign off on the project as a formality before construction can begin, but planning board members don’t expect them to object.

Developers have previously said they hope to have the facility up and running come spring 2023.

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