Kenosha close to approving Amazon.com distribution center

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by Lane Kimble

KENOSHA --  An open plot of land on Kenosha's northwest side doesn't look like much today, but a big development could change that.

"It's one of the best things to happen to southeastern Wisconsin in years," Kenosha Alderman Jesse Downing said.

Amazon.com expressed interest in building a distribution center just east of I-94 and north of Highway N.  The Kenosha Common Council will vote to approve the conditional use permit Monday night.

"It's a $250 million investment in the City of Kenosha, which is significant," Mayor Keith Bosman said.

The 1-million square-foot facility would bring more than 1,000 new jobs and up to 500 seasonal jobs.

"This is a $50 million payroll that products being sold in other places, the payroll is ending up here in Kenosha," Bosman said.

Alderman Downing's district would be home to the facility, which would benefit from $17 million in tax incentives.

"It's really centrally located," Downing said.  "You can get to Minnesota, you can get to Illinois, Missouri.  It's all right there for the Midwest."

Downing says he hasn't heard many complaints.  But all the additional traffic worries some people who live in the area.

"There's gonna be a lot of semis coming up and down the road," resident Tim Nelson said.  "It takes away from the land.  I mean it's not really the county anymore."

Nelson lives just across the road from the proposed location.

"There's a lot of land around here, I don't understand why it has to be right here," Nelson said.

The mayor admits the property owners had to buy out some homes and will build infrastructure to move forward, but he thinks the community will benefit from this facility in the end.

"I don't have a problem with fixing roads and making more roads better for more traffic and cars as long as they're going to jobs," Bosman said.

If the council approves the permit, the mayor says the facility could be up and running as soon as October 1, 2014.

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