Project Snapshot: Amazon distribution center revs up near raceway

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Amazon’s new robotics fulfillment center, also called Project Speedway and RIC4, is a year into construction along Richmond Henrico Turnpike. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

Last weekend’s NASCAR race wasn’t the only attraction turning heads around Richmond Raceway.

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Amazon’s massive robotics fulfillment center is taking shape along Richmond Henrico Turnpike just north of the raceway.

The 2.6 million-square-foot distribution facility is about a year into construction and is slated to start operations next spring.

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The five-story structure is rising on a 120-acre site north of Richmond Raceway.

The center will be the first of its kind in Central Virginia, joining a similar facility in Suffolk that uses robotics technology designed to assist employees in sorting, packaging and shipping smaller goods such as books, electronics and household items. Amazon opened the Suffolk center late last year.

Referred to as Project Speedway — the codename used before the project was announced last April— the Henrico facility is expected to create 1,000 jobs and is rising on a 120-acre site at 5901 Richmond Henrico Turnpike. Richmond Raceway sold the land, previously used for overflow parking, to Texas-based Hillwood Enterprises for $7.7 million.

The facility is one of several across the country that Hillwood has developed with the online retailer signed on as a tenant. Hillwood is led by Ross Perot Jr., the son of the late businessman and 1990s presidential candidate Ross Perot Sr. In 2020, Hillwood and NASCAR announced an exclusive arrangement to improve surplus land in the auto racing company’s real estate portfolio.

The building can be seen through tree lines along Carolina Avenue.

Clark Construction Group is the contractor on Project Speedway, working with Northern Virginia-based Shirley Contracting Co. Design firm Ware Malcomb is the architect.

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The five-story structure is based off of a 650,000-square-foot footprint and will reach 100 feet at its highest point, plans show. A parking lot is planned between the building and the turnpike, which is being improved along the site.

Improvements to the turnpike will continue southward, as Henrico County is planning a $22.5 million enhancement from just south of Azalea Avenue to Laburnum Avenue. That two-year project is scheduled to start next spring.

A site plan shows the building’s orientation with a parking lot along the turnpike. (Henrico County document)

Amazon has not disclosed the development cost for the project, which the company refers to as its RIC4 fulfillment center. A company spokeswoman said the center would open next spring, a change from the 2022 opening announced last year.

The facility adds to two other fulfillment centers that Amazon operates in the region: at 5000 Commerce Way in Dinwiddie County (RIC1) and at 1901 Meadowville Technology Parkway in Chesterfield County (RIC2). Those centers employ more than 1,100 people combined and each stand at around 1 million square feet.

Other Amazon facilities in the region include a distribution center in Richmond at 4949 Commerce Road (RIC3). The company also leases two 320,000-square-foot buildings, in Hanover at 11600 N. Lakeridge Parkway (RIC5) and in Chesterfield at 1601 Bellwood Road. Both of those buildings were built by developer Devon USA.





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