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Jax Daily Record Monday, Dec. 3, 201804:01 PM EST

Wayfair to open 1 million-square-foot Jacksonville distribution center

City announces the home furnishings retailer will create 250  jobs at AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center.

Making it public and official, city Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa signed an economic development agreement Nov. 15 with Wayfair LLC to develop a $72 million Westside distribution facility in AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center by year-end 2020.

Wayfair General Counsel Enrique Colbert signed the document for the company, while Mousa signed for Mayor Lenny Curry.

On Monday, the city announced that Boston-based Wayfair Inc., an online retailer for home furnishings, chose Jacksonville for a 1 million-square-foot warehouse and distribution center that will serve customers throughout the Southeast.

There's little surprise about the identity because Wayfair has been posting job openings for months for a Jacksonville “Large Parcel Home Delivery Operation.”

The announcement said Wayfair offers more than 10 million products from more than 10,000 different suppliers. It has more than 10,900 employees throughout North America and Europe.

It generated $6.2 billion in revenue for the year that ended Sept. 30.

The deal

Wayfair expects to employ 250 workers by the end of 2021 at an average wage of $33,000 in exchange for a $3.3 million city Recapture Enhanced Value grant, payable over 10 years. The grant is based on the additional property taxes generated by the project.

City Council approved the grant for Wayfair, code-named Project Empire, in October.

A REV grant requires that a company create at least 10 full-time jobs at or greater than the state’s average wage, which is $46,346. Council waived that, saying the grant was necessary for the project’s feasibility.

According to the economic development agreement, Wayfair will start construction on or before Jan. 31 and complete it on or before Dec. 31, 2020.

The grant payments start the year after construction is completed and the project is on the city tax rolls and end after 10 years.

Wayfair has deadlines to meet to receive the full incentive.

Wayfair must invest at least $57.6 million in the project by year-end 2020 or the grant will be reduced. The grant will be terminated if the investment falls below $40 million in private funding by that time.

What the leaders say

Wayfair Chief Operating Officer James Savarese said in the news release that the Jacksonville center is part of the company's plan to scale its logistics operations in Florida to support growth.

“With the opening of our new distribution center in Jacksonville, we know we will benefit from a strong talent pool and we look forward to contributing to the growth of job opportunities in the region as we welcome hundreds of employees to our world-class team,” he said.

Curry said in a statement that Wayfair “adds hundreds of jobs to our community, and contributes economic value that bolsters our statewide growth in job creation and demand.”

Aundra Wallace, president of the JAXUSA Partnership economic development division of JAX Chamber, said the project helps to further establish Jacksonville as a significant player for retailers that need to reach customers in the Southeast.

“Companies can get to 60 million people within an 8-hour drive,” he said in the city's release.

Jobs are posted

Wayfair continues to list job openings for Jacksonville, including a director of operations “to streamline and optimize day-to-day operations for the Jacksonville Warehousing team.”

The candidate’s responsibilities include “managing of our Jacksonville, FL distribution center to achievement of goals for operational metrics, including shipping time, order fill rate, inventory location, and count accuracy.”

Wayfair also has posted openings for a launch lead, senior operations manager, launch supervisor and launch specialists for the Large Parcel Home Delivery Operation in Jacksonville.

The site

AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center has been moving ahead with plans for a 1,012,567-square-foot distribution warehouse with associated infrastructure at 13483 103rd St. for an unidentified tenant.

The 80-acre site is Parcel A2/B next to the 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center at 13333 103rd St.

AllianceFlorida master developer Hillwood plans to pay the city $9,517 an acre for the property for an estimated total of $757,569, according to legislation.

Wayfair, through a lease with Dallas-based Hillwood, would pay for the cost of construction and development of the space.

Georgia also lands Wayfair

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced Thursday that Wayfair is building at 1.2 million-square-foot e-commerce facility in Savannah.

Deal said the Savannah project is part of a $45 million investment. The 1,000 jobs would pay an average of $17 an hour.

According to the news site, Trip Tollison, president and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, said SEDA has been working on the project since January.

The news site reported that local voters helped make the deal a reality by approving freeport exemptions in November. Those exemptions provide a break from personal property taxes on inventory that is for work in process, finished goods, inventory in a warehouse or on a dock waiting for out-of-state shipment, and e-commerce inventory held by a fulfillment center.

The Georgia Legislature added the e-commerce class in 2016.

Tollison expects Wayfair to open the facility in April.

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