LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland city commissioners voted Monday to approve plans to open an Amazon cargo handling facility at Lakeland Linder International Airport.
The hub will be the e-commerce giant's largest facility in the southeast United States. Construction is scheduled to begin July 3 and be completed in roughly a year, meaning Amazon jets could be in the air by as early as July 2020.
Amazon will lease 47 acres of land on the northwest side of the airport, with the option to expand into the adjoining 62 acres of property. The company plans to build a 223,000-square-foot building on the site. Two smaller accessory buildings will also be constructed. They will be no larger than 60,000-square-feet combined.
In rent, Amazon will pay the airport $80,651 a month. That rent would increase 7.5 percent on every five-year anniversary date during the lease's first term, according to the city. The initial lease term is for 20 years – with three 10-year renewal opportunities, meaning Amazon could get a total lease term of 50 years if it exercised the renewal option all three times.
Talks with Amazon began in 2017. These are some of the incentives that reportedly helped close the deal with Amazon:
- According to the Lakeland Ledger, FDOT is kicking in $400,000, and the city of Lakeland is paying $100,000 to build five fuel tanks to help handle the hub.
- An FDOT grant for $2.24 million and an extra $433,807 from Lakeland will pay for upgrades to the airport's instrument landing system and runways, The Ledger reports. The instrument landing system upgrades will help planes land in bad weather. The city's chunk of this money can be reimbursed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
- According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Amazon is getting a tax incentive of $225,000 for creating up to 75 "high-paying" jobs with an average wage of at least $47,000. As 10News has previously reported, Amazon plans to create 800 to 1,000 jobs. So, only a small portion of the jobs would fall into that category.
A spokesperson for Tampa International Airport said it was the airport's understanding that Amazon intended to relocate Tampa air operations to Lakeland in the next couple years.
"This move makes sense for all parties," the spokesperson wrote by email. "We had been in conversations with Amazon, but we don’t have the space to accommodate their future needs. Right now the Amazon planes are staging on the site where we want to build a new Airside for passenger service, which is our primary mission. Lakeland has the room for Amazon, and the company’s interest in growing there attests to the economic strength of our region."
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