City manager: Project X is still alive
by Jonathan Partridge | Patterson Irrigator
Mar 29, 2012 | 2653 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The large vacant lot at the corner of Sperry and Park Drive in Patterson still awaits a buyer, leaving residents to wonder what happened to Project X?
Lisa James / Patterson Irrigator
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Much of Patterson was abuzz in January when city officials announced that a mystery company would build a 1 million-square-foot distribution center that would employ 1,500 people. Two months later, no one has signed on the dotted line, let alone moved dirt.

Landowners and developers involved in the deal have kept mum about details of the project, rumored to be a fulfillment warehouse for Amazon.com.

City Manager Rod Butler said everything he had heard from Atlanta-based developer Seefried Industrial Properties indicated that the project, known as “Project X,” was moving forward. He would not venture to guess when the project tenant would be announced.

“From all indications, it’s very much alive, and all the parties are moving forward to take the steps to get it moving,” he said. “We’re very hopeful.”

He said he had received periodic updates from Seefried indicating that the project was still moving along.

Jason Quintel, senior vice president of Seefried Industrial Properties, did not return calls from the Irrigator last week. When reached on his cellphone and asked about the status of the project, he hung up without comment.

Seefried officials told the city in January that they hoped the center would be open by the end of September, but Butler said he was not aware of company’s present timeline.

Ken Buehner, one of the co-owners of the property, said he could not comment on the matter.

City officials said in January that a well-known company planned to move into West Ridge Business Park and employ 1,500 full-time workers and as many as 2,500 seasonal employees. A special City Council meeting was scheduled for Jan. 11 to discuss the project, but that meeting was postponed when it became apparent that the developer and landowner were still working out details. No other information has become publicly available since that time.

Records at the Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder’s office show a new parcel map for the West Ridge Business Business Park recorded in early January, but no official activity has been recorded there since that time.

Amazon officials have neither confirmed nor denied the rumors that they plan to occupy the center, though they have announced the construction of fulfillment centers in Jeffersonville, Ind.; Middletown, Del.; and Spartanburg County, S.C.

Meanwhile, much of what is known about the Patterson project is rumor and speculation. The Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, an economic development organization that works on behalf of businesses within the county, is typically in the know about such major business projects. However, Alliance CEO Bill Bassitt said he had not received an update in weeks.

“Whatever is happening, they’re playing it very close to the belt,” Bassitt said.

While the Alliance continues to get inquiries from businesses that want to move into the county, Bassitt described most of them as “tire kickers” looking around at their options. Project X, the only major project he knew that was seriously looking at the area, could be a boon for the region, Bassitt said.

“We continue to hope,” he said. “It’s certainly a nice project if it comes to fruition.”

Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com.

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