Though its user remains a mystery, the stage is set for a large e-commerce fulfillment center to rise in eastern Goochland County.
The Goochland Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a rezoning request needed to construct a facility with a 650,000-square-foot footprint for an unidentified tenant on a 105-acre site at 1990 Ashland Road, near the county’s border with Henrico and Hanover counties.
The facility is expected to have 55 loading docks, 414 truck trailer parking spots and about 1,700 parking spaces for employees, according to a staff report.
More than 1,000 employees are expected to work at the facility across two daily shifts, which is planned to operate 24/7. The investment in the site is expected to be more than $500 million, according to a county staff report.
The operator of the facility has yet to be publicly announced, though some signs point to Amazon.
Codenamed in county documents as “Project Rocky,” the facility is similar to Amazon’s robotics center that’s near Richmond Raceway. The Goochland facility would have the same footprint as the Amazon facility at the raceway and would also have robotics on the upper floors of the multi-story building.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment for this article.
The developer of the Goochland project is California-based Panattoni Development Co., whose local work includes the Virginia I-95 distribution complex that features an Amazon fulfillment center. An LLC tied to Panattoni is named on the approved rezoning application.
It’s unclear whether Panattoni has the land under contract.
Roth Jackson attorney Andy Condlin, who represented Panattoni in its rezoning approval process with Goochland, referred questions to Panattoni. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The project site is located between the Luck Stone and Martin Marietta quarries and is near the Rockville Commerce Industrial Park. It consists of four parcels that have been valued at a total of $6 million.
The building, which is referred to as both a fulfillment center and a distribution center in the Goochland staff report, will sit on 60 acres of the overall property.
The board also approved a conditional-use permit for the project to allow the facility to be up to 120 feet in height.
Almost all of the roughly 35 people who spoke during Tuesday’s public hearing prior to the board’s vote voiced opposition to Project Rocky. Opponents cited concerns about increased traffic generated by the facility, environmental effects and transparency about the company that will operate the facility among other issues.
While Supervisor Susan Lascollete acknowledged those concerns, she felt the project was a good fit for Goochland and that the county would be able to address any challenges it might raise.
“The traffic, you’re right, is an issue but I think we’re on the right track,” Lascollete said. “This is a good project for Goochland. It’s in the right place. It’s the right project, I believe. We’ve got work to do.”
Related to traffic in the area, Goochland has canned plans for a two-lane diverging diamond interchange at the I-64 interchange with Ashland Road in favor of a four-lane version.
That decision was reached after county staff met with VDOT officials after the Planning Commission’s July meeting, said Jo Ann Hunter, Goochland’s deputy county administrator for community and economic development, at the board’s meeting.
The county already had more than $17 million in funding from the Central Virginia Transportation Authority initially intended for the two-lane interchange project. The county is trying to get the CVTA to reallocate funding for other county projects toward the four-lane interchange and has applied for more state funding for the project, Hunter said.
Proffered traffic improvements directly related to Project Rocky include a traffic signal at the development’s entrance onto Ashland Road, new turn lanes at the entrance and a new turn lane at the intersection of Ashland Road and westbound I-64.
Engineering firms Bowman, Kimley-Horn and Ceso respectively handled the project’s conceptual plan, transportation analysis and landscaping plan.
• BizSense reporter Jonathan Spiers contributed to this report.