Online retail giant Amazon plans to add a third package delivery station in Colorado Springs as it continues to expand its local delivery network beyond its nearly 4- million-square-foot fulfillment center that will open in 2021 near the city's airport.
Amazon would take over the 19-acre, Western Forge hand tool manufacturing complex on the city's northwest side, which closed this year after more than a half-century of toolmaking in Colorado Springs, according to a proposal submitted to city government planners.
Multiple buildings at the Western Forge site would be torn down to make way for construction of a nearly 105,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility, along with parking lots and landscaping, the proposal shows.
The warehouse and distribution center, in turn, would operate as a delivery station, which makes so-called "last mile" deliveries to online buyers, according to the proposal and accompanying documents.
Neither Amazon's name nor that of the delivery station user are mentioned in the proposal submitted to city planners. But a report by a suburban Denver consultant on soil conditions at the Western Forge site, which accompanies the proposal, says its recommendations relied, in part, on criteria for the construction of Amazon delivery stations and vehicle canopies.
The proposal itself also mentions that a portion of onsite parking for the new delivery station would be set aside for "AMZL" management; AMZL is an acronym for Amazon Logistics, part of Amazon's shipping network.
Amazon spokeswoman Nikki Wheeler said she couldn't comment on the retailer's plans in Colorado Springs.
"I can say we are proud of the investments we've made in Colorado," Wheeler said via email. "We look forward to the opening of our new state-of-the-art fulfillment center in the spring."
Amazon's mammoth fulfillment center is under construction at the Colorado Springs Airport's Peak Innovation Park, a business park southeast of Powers Boulevard and Milton E. Proby Parkway on the city's southeast side.
The five-story fulfillment center, which will be the largest building in the city and one of the largest in the state, will ship customer orders for books, electronics, toys and other smaller items to the Springs area, across Colorado and to surrounding states. The complex will employ more than 1,000 people.
Amazon's shipping and delivery infrastructure includes fulfillment centers, "sortation centers," delivery stations and even Whole Foods stores; Amazon purchased the grocery chain in 2017.
A fulfillment center delivers completed customer orders to a sortation center, where packages are routed to a delivery station or a Whole Foods store closest to the customer.
In Colorado Springs, Amazon's multi-building delivery network appears to be taking shape.
A proposal recently was submitted to city planners by Colorado Springs Airport officials for construction of a 279,000-square-foot sortation center next to an existing Amazon delivery station in the Peak Innovation Park. The sortation center proposal also doesn't mention Amazon, but an early version of those plans showed a drawing of the facility with Amazon's name.
Also, plans have been submitted to city officials that call for another delivery station to take over a former Sam's Club warehouse store on South Academy Boulevard.
That proposal also doesn't identify Amazon as the new user of the Sam's property, though its description of a delivery station — "where customer orders are prepared for last-mile delivery to the surrounding neighborhood" — closely matches that of Amazon facilities.
Amazon's takeover of the former Western Forge property further cements the end of an era for the toolmaker in Colorado Springs. Western Forge had been in the Springs for 54 years and at one time made Craftsman products that were sold in Sears stores.
But Ideal Industries Inc., Western Forge's Illinois-based owner, said in February that it would close the local toolmaking operation, lay off 164 employees and consolidate the Springs' manufacturing with that of an operation west of Chicago.
At that time, Ideal said Western Forge's closing was triggered when financially troubled Sears sold its Craftsman tool division four years ago and moved manufacturing operations offshore. Ideal said it couldn't offset the loss of the Craftsman volume and had tried unsuccessfully to sell the Colorado Springs plant.
The Western Forge site now is under contract to be sold, said Randy Dowis of NAI Highland, a Springs commercial brokerage that's marketing the property.
Dowis declined to say who has contracted to buy the site, which El Paso County land records show has 10 buildings of various sizes and which online marketing materials say was listed for $9.95 million.