Ever since the Hollister Planning Commission approved a 1.05-million-square-foot fulfillment center Jan. 13, 2022, the overriding question has been what company will ultimately take up residence there. Project Almond, currently under construction, is on 73 acres in the planned Clearist Industrial Park north of the Hollister Municipal Park on San Felipe Road in Hollister.
The Project Almond fulfillment and distribution facility is 18 times larger than a professional football field and eight times larger than the nearby Amazon delivery hub, which opened in September 2021. The new project will include 20,000 square feet of office space. Over the last few months, a company that specializes in foundation solutions is putting in an astonishing 8,922 in-ground columns, each over 50 feet deep.
After multiple requests from BenitoLink, neither the Planning Commission, former Mayor Ignacio Velazquez or City Manager Brett Miller would tell BenitoLink who the future occupant is. None of the companies involved would reveal the name of a future tenant.
Despite the size and impact of both the recently operational Amazon building in north Hollister and the new center currently under construction, the privacy afforded the companies by Hollister leadership and the planning commission has meant the public is in the dark when it comes to this new employer.
Originally, in March 2021, Duke Realty Development Services, an international real estate developer based in Indianapolis, Indiana, submitted the project to the Planning Commission. Duke was also involved with the Amazon Hub project that was finally revealed on Sept. 4. Amazon opened three weeks later on Sept. 28 and at the time, was planning on filling 300 job positions. The $50-million Amazon Hub facility is located at 1551 Citation Way.
Duke rebuffed repeated requests from BenitoLink for information about who the tenant will be for the county’s next fulfillment center.
Abraham Prado, who worked in Hollister’s planning department and has since moved to a similar position with the county, told commissioners Jan. 13, 2022 that products such as furniture and appliances will be unloaded at the site. He said the products will then be sorted, stored, picked, assembled and loaded onto line haul trucks headed to other distribution facilities or consumers.
Prado said 200 tractor-trailers (100 incoming and 100 outgoing) are expected to make daily deliveries in a 24-hour period, with half doing so between midnight and 8 a.m. Additionally, as many as 80 box trucks and vans are expected to be used by the distribution center, leaving at 5 a.m. and returning at 2 p.m.
In June 2022, Inman, a real estate agent news organization, announced “Warehouse giant, Amazon landlord Prologis buys Duke Realty for $26B.” By Oct. 3, Prologis had fully acquired Duke Realty and all of its assets, including the Hollister Project Almond project, a spokesperson confirmed.
Since 2000, Prologis has been closely connected to Amazon, according to its website, building strategic distribution space in 19 markets, including the United Kingdom, China, Japan, and the United States. In Feb. 2022, the company opened a 1-million square-foot fulfillment center in Tracy, Calif. This was the second Amazon facility built in the same industrial park.
The Prologis spokesperson told BenitoLink that she could not “speculate” on who their client is that will occupy the Hollister facility. When pressed, she would only say, “I cannot speculate or confirm we are coming to Hollister.” She would not, however, after repeated prompts, deny Amazon was the future tenant.
In Hollister, three more companies with long-standing relationships with Amazon were involved in both the completed hub fulfillment center and the Almond project under construction, north of the airport.
Alston Construction built the current hub and their sign is now on the fence leading to the new project. Project Almond is also listed on the company website. Alston did not respond to BenitoLink’s request for comment.
An employee with Don Chapin Company, which has been delivering concrete to the Almond construction site said he was not authorized to reveal the tenant.
Over the last month, there has been activity at the site being conducted by Placerville, California-based Farrell Design-Build Companies Inc. The company website states that it specializes in “ground improvement” and “deep foundation pile solutions”. The company site shows that they drive concrete columns into the ground to improve stability below buildings.
Farrell Design-Build is installing 8,922 concrete columns to depths of 51.5 feet at the Hollister site, according to its Facebook page. Hollister Planning Commission member, David Huboi, told BenitoLink that potential soil liquefaction is the most logical explanation for the work being done. He explained that land north of the Hollister Airport is either already unstable or it may be susceptible to liquefaction, meaning the ground can liquify should there be an earthquake of as little as 4.5 magnitude.
The company did not respond to BenitoLink’s request for comments. BenitoLink also reached out to other possible tenants, based on the business description of the company that is expected to eventually inhabit the building, including IKEA and American Freight. An IKEA spokesperson said it is not involved. American Freight did not respond.
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