Pandemic, Amazon drives growth in mega-business centers in East Metro Twin Cities | MCUTimes

Pandemic, Amazon drives growth in mega-business centers in East Metro Twin Cities

A huge new kind of truck center is rolling into the twin cities – thanks in part to the pandemic and home delivery giant Amazon.

In Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Oakdale and Cottage Grove, this type of facility has been proposed for development with a total floor area of ​​109 football pitches.

“We call them flex centers,” said Carolyn Bates, research director at JLL, a worldwide real estate provider. The company reports a boom in the metro area of ​​the centers, combining warehousing, offices, distribution and sometimes light manufacturing.

Their hallmark is their gigantic size. For example, a seven-story project in Cottage Grove will have 2.4 million square feet, the size of 31 typical Cub Foods stores.


The metro projects in the east remain mysteries and the residents are not yet known. None of them are officially approved, but city officials have welcomed the potential additions to employment and tax bases.

JLL’s Bates said companies are currently asking for 13 million square feet for such facilities in the metro area.

“That’s a very large number,” she said. Usually, demand hovers around 7 million to 8 million square feet.

This need is partially met by similar centers proposed or underway in Blaine, Burnsville, Brooklyn Park and Arden Hills.
Bates said demand is driven by the success of COVID and Amazon.

The company made a mark in the home delivery of e-commerce by building its total warehouse / office / distribution centers nationwide. It opened an 855,000-square-foot center in Shakopee in 2016 and plans to open a 755,000-square-foot center in Lakeville this fall.

Amazon sales increased when COVID-fearing customers stayed home and ordered products online. In April, the company reported a 44 percent 12-month jump in sales.


An Amazon Fulfillment warehouse seen July 8, 2019 in Shakopee. (AP Photo / Jim Mone)

Now other companies are catching up. According to JLL, they follow the Amazon prototype of the multifunctional megacenter.

“It’s no surprise to me to see more interest in storage complexes,” said Kristina Handt, administrator of Elmo Lake, which proposes a one-million-square-foot project.

At a Sept. 14 meeting, Lake Elmo City Council heard about plans to build on a 77-acre site on 34th Street and Ideal Avenue. The $ 104 million proposal requires four buildings with 560 employees.

Handt welcomes not only the increase in the tax base, but the diversification. The city has relatively fewer businesses and more housing than its neighbors.

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