The West Covina City Council on Tuesday approved Greenlaw Partners’ plans to redevelop a church property into an Amazon distribution center.
Irvine-based Greenlaw expects to complete the 177,240-square-foot Amazon Delivery Center in about a year, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The development site totals 21.1 acres at 1211 E. Badillo Street in West Covina. The city is on the eastern edge of the Gabriel Valley, situated along the 10 Freeway as a gateway to the Inland Empire.
Amazon will have a 12-year lease for the facility.
The approval requires Greenlaw to pay a $2.1 million community benefit payment and pay $200,000 into the city’s general fund. The developer must also make ongoing community-benefit payments of $100,000 per year and $200,000 to the general fund on an annual basis.
The approval was contentious, although only one member of the five-member council voted against it. Supporters said the 400 or so jobs would be good for a city with an 11.3 percent unemployment rate.
There were a handful more meeting attendees against the project than for it, with some opponents noting that more than half the jobs would be with Amazon contractors rather than the tenant itself. Some opponents also raised concerns about increased pollution and traffic, but most took issue with Amazon’s spotty labor record. Employee wages start at $15 an hour.
Some were UPS employees, who argued that Amazon pays less than their company and other delivery companies.
Greenlaw’s Scott Murray told the council that the decision was a question of land use, and had nothing to do with Amazon’s practices, in his view.
Councilmember Brian Tabatabai, who cast the lone vote against the project, said that was a disingenuous argument.
“You cannot on the one instance have all the perks of Amazon and sell that to the community, and then when you get the critique of Amazon come in here and say this is a land-use issue and has nothing to do with Amazon,” he said.
The company employs nearly a million people nationwide and has been sharply criticized for its intense work environment and low wages.