Last edited 12:11 p.m., Oct. 29, 2020
Editor's note: Public records obtained through a Sunshine Law request after this article was published show Amazon is the tenant of the distribution center and warehouse that's underway in Republic. View the updated article here.
Rumors have circulated for weeks after the city of Republic teased a "massive" distribution center and warehouse project underway in the community southwest of Springfield.
Public records brought to light in an Oct. 27 Springfield News-Leader report show evidence that Amazon.com Inc. may be involved in the project. Multiple anonymous tips to Springfield Business Journal have suggested Amazon may be the developer for the Republic project, but attempts to verify the information over the past month have been unsuccessful.
Citing a confidentiality agreement, officials with the city have declined to name the tenant of the warehouse project underway at Highway MM and Sawyer Road in north Republic. An Amazon spokesperson also has declined to confirm whether the company is behind the project well underway in the Garton Business Park.
The News-Leader filed a Sunshine Law public records request for access to the confidentiality agreement. Like other documents on file with the city – which do not require a Sunshine request to view – the confidentiality agreement involves Seefried Industrial Properties Inc., according to the News-Leader. The city was unable to provide the document by deadline after SBJ filed its own Sunshine request, and the News-Leader article did not indicate that Amazon was named directly in the public filings.
Atlanta-based Seefried's website shows build-to-suit developments for Amazon in Alabama, California and Wisconsin, as well as those for other companies including Georgia Pacific and Best Buy. A Seefried spokesperson could not be reached for comment by deadline.
City of Republic records show the development is nicknamed "Project Lunker." Similarly, Seefried recently completed an Amazon fulfillment center in Stone Mountain, Georgia, that started under the "Project Rocket" code name, according to a Commercial Property Executive report.
Republic City Council's Oct. 20 agenda included a developer agreement ordinance with Seefried that stated the company is developing a commercial distribution and fulfillment center on land in the Garton Business Park located at Highway MM and Sawyer Road.
Drury University currently owns the land, with roughly 133 acres that includes the Garton Business Park, according to the Greene County assessor. SBJ previously reported that the private school was gifted the land, though an official with the university declined to comment on the construction or whether a deal was in the works for the land.
Real estate developer and broker Tom Rankin, whose company Rankin Development lists Garton Business Park among its projects, declined to comment when asked about the warehouse project.
The News-Leader report is not the first to speculate on Amazon's entrance into Republic. Articles from KOLR10, the Greene County Commonwealth and Biz 417 also have pointed to Amazon potentially being the developer. An article posted Oct. 20 by Biz 417 was removed within hours after incorrectly stating that Republic spokesperson Mike Landis confirmed Amazon was the tenant. Later that day, the publication released a corrected article titled, "Is Amazon Coming to Southwest Missouri?"
Landis has told SBJ the development would “be a massive undertaking," though he has continually declined to name the tenant.
While he declined to confirm Amazon's involvement in the local development, spokesperson Daniel Martin said the company "is proud of the investments we’ve made in Missouri."
"To date, we have created over 4,500 jobs and have invested over $780 million across the state including infrastructure and compensation to our employees," he said in a statement. "While we don’t comment on rumors or speculation, Amazon is constantly investigating new locations to support the growth and increase the flexibility of its North American fulfillment network to address customers’ needs."
Online job listings indicate Amazon is hiring in the Springfield area.
SBJ survey data is used to analyze the flow of money.
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