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VOL. 133 | NO. 151 | Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Amazon Proposes a Tent Design for New West McLemore Location

The Daily News

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Amazon proposes an unusual development in South Memphis: A tent to serve as a warehouse for two years.

The world’s largest online retailer wants to build a triangular, 16,575-square-foot warehouse of taut fabric supported by steel-tube trusses and cables, according to construction documents filed with Shelby County Construction Code Enforcement Office.

That agency’s longtime administrator, Allen Medlock, said he was unaware of another Memphis warehouse made in such a way. The application for the building permit was submitted in late July.

The arched structure would rise on part of an asphalt parking lot at 109 W. McLemore, just east of I-55. Belz Investco owns the 11.4 acres, much of which is used by a trucking company.

The construction cost is estimated at $595,000.

Plans show that the long, 35-foot-tall building would have six overhead doors – three on each side – where vans can be loaded. Tractor-trailers would unload under an open-air, 2,150-square-foot breezeway at one end of the building.

The building also would house areas designated for a “station,’’ ready-to-ship desk, shift manager’s desk and water cooler, the plans show.

The site plan shows 43 regular parking spaces and 19 spaces for vans.

A ClearSpan Fabric Structures facility in Dyersville, Iowa, would supply the building components, documents how.

The plans refer to the building in different ways: “Permanent tent;’’ “tent structure warehouse;’’ and “frame supported fabric structure warehouse.’’

Memphis and Shelby County planning director Josh Whitehead said his office has reviewed the application for compliance and confirmed that it adheres to codes. But Amazon also requests that it be granted a waiver from landscaping requirements in large part because the tent warehouse will be removed after two years.

The proposed development would be the fourth and most unusual Amazon building in Memphis.

The city failed to make the cut for the so-called “HQ2,’’ Amazon’s second headquarters that is to employ about 50,000 people. However, the e-commerce giant is rapidly establishing a substantial presence in Memphis.

Traditional warehouse construction is being completed on a $70 million “receive center’’ which is to open by early next year at 3292 Holmes Road in the city’s vast, Southeast industrial area. The facility is to employ 575 people in an operation for receiving and repackaging goods for shipment to Amazon fulfillment centers.

Earlier in July, construction documents were filed on behalf of Amazon for the $10 million renovation of an existing warehouse at 5155 Citation, about two miles east of the receive center. The 400,000-square-foot building previously housed the AT&T Entertainment Group Supply Chain.

Amazon also has operated a warehouse at 6005 Freeport, also in Southeast Memphis.

By Wednesday morning, Amazon had not responded to a reporter’s request for more information about the roles the McLemore and Citation warehouses will play. The company has publicly described the purpose of its receive center as part of its application to receive a tax incentive for the investment and jobs there.

But so far Amazon has not sought a tax incentive for the other two Memphis facilities and has not commented about what function each will serve.

The ClearSpan website lists several advantages to its fabric-covered buildings, stating: The anchoring system needs no expensive excavation or foundation work; the interior has no columns or other support structures that get in the way; the fabric admits natural light and reduces electricity costs; the fabric keeps the space warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, also reducing power expenses; and “little or no’’ property taxes must be paid on the tent-like buildings.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751