Just how big are Amazon’s Pasco warehouses? Here’s how many Buckingham Palaces would fit

It’s been almost 2 1/2 years since Amazon Inc. became one of the biggest economic development mysteries in Tri-Cities history — not counting the Manhattan Project, of course.

Why would the massive company invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new Pasco facilities, tout plans to hire 1,500 and then seemingly shelve everything?

By way of background, Amazon and its development partner, Ryan Companies US LLC, built, then did not open, two massive fulfillment centers with more than one million square feet each near Sacajawea State Park in east Pasco.

More recently, Amazon advanced plans for a third facility, a delivery station that will add almost 90,000 more square feet to its local footprint.

After a series of fits and starts that left the original two warehouses collecting tumbleweeds, the Seattle-based e-commercie giant is poised to fulfill its promise to speed up local deliveries, add jobs in Tri-Cities and transform the community into a node in its global logistics network.

Last month, Amazon confirmed it would open Project Oyster, the warehouse on the east side of Road 40, this summer.

It will open as an “Inbound Cross Dock” in tandem with the smaller delivery station, which breaks ground this month. The station will enable two-day Amazon deliveries in Tri-Cities.

Rumors to the contrary, Amazon confirms it has no immediate plans to open the second giant warehouse, known as Project Pearl.

As Pasco braces for the impact of a hiring spree and the prospect of 3,000 or more new vehicle trips on local roads, the Tri-City Herald decided to put some of the big numbers surrounding all things Amazon into perspective.

A Buckingham Palace, or three?

Amazon Inc.’s massive warehouses in Pasco could fit the equivalent of almost three Buckingham Palaces. Christophe Ena - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Amazon Inc.’s massive warehouses in Pasco could fit the equivalent of almost three Buckingham Palaces. Christophe Ena - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Amazon and Ryan Companies built Project Oyster, with 1.07 million square feet, and Project Pearl, with 1.05 million square feet, to serve as fulfillment centers before the company paused plans amid a surplus of logistics space.

Both are 1.3 times the size of Buckingham Palace — HQ for the British monarch. That’s according to TheMeasureofThings.com, which uses a tongue-in-cheek calculations to put giant numbers into context.

Sticking to the British monarchy theme, the delivery station on Pasco’s North Capitol Avenue will be comparable in size, though presumably not as luxurious, as Holyrood Palace, the Brits’ official crown residence in Scotland.

In American terms, Oyster and Pearl are each a tad bit larger than Alcatraz and the delivery station will be about 1 1/2 times the size of a football field, per NFL standards.

Warehouses v. sailing yachts

By the time the delivery station is built, Amazon and Co. will have spent about $275 million to build its three buildings in Pasco, according to the values attached to building permits.

With land, design and other costs factored in, the total investment is much higher.

Even so, that falls short of the reported $500 million Amazon founder Jeff Bezos spent on The Koru, his 417-foot, triple-masted sailing yacht.

It was reportedly docked in The Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in December, per the Miami Herald.

Miami reported The Koru is so big it had to anchor with the oil tankers and not the other leisure ships in the ‘hood.

Beaucoup trucks and cars

Amazon was expected to add about 2,800 vehicles to local roads when Oyster and Pearl opened as fulfillment centers.

It’s not yet clear what the impact will be since it changed the way it will open the buildings and opted to add a third (and counting) to the mix.

The delivery station will add 565 car and truck trips to local roads each day, pushing the rough impact past 3,000.

For comparison’s sake, the largest ocean-going car carriers can handle up to 8,500 vehicles.

An estimated 65,000 vehicles use the blue bridge each day and another 23,288 use the cable bridge (and that was before painting work on the blue bridge compelled motorists to to seek alternative routes.)

East A Street, one of the access points to the larger warehouses, saw an average of about 3,410 vehicles per day, according to a 2021 report by the Benton Franklin Council of Governments.

Thousands of jobs

Amazon will hire 1,650 people this year — 1,500 at the Oyster/Inbound Cross Dock and 150 at the delivery station.

That’s enough jobs to employ every man, woman and child living now in Basin City in Franklin County.

It will also place Amazon among the larger private, non-Hanford employers in the region.

Kadlec Regional Medical Center is the largest private employer with about 3,800 employees, followed by French fry giant Lamb Weston (3,000) and Tyson Foods (1,400), according to the Tri-City Development Council.

Amazon has advertised some senior positions, but won’t begin major hiring until closer to the opening dates.

If Amazon were a country

If Amazon were a country, it would rank near Norway in terms of economic impact and Trinidad and Tobago in terms of people.

In February, Amazon reported 2023 sales of $574.8 billion, up 12% from 2022. That’s comparable to the GDP of Norway.

In American terms, its revenue is roughly equivalent to three quarters of the GDP of its home state of Washington.

Amazon’s reported 1.5 million employees worldwide could populate the country of Trinidad and Tobago. In American terms, that’s comparable to the population of Hawaii.

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