Another reason to reject Hillwood with no further discussion.


1—It is in an agricultural rural area being developed by the state into an industrial park, not residential as in Churchill

2—they show the actual size instead of hiding it, as with Churchill, so we know the renderings exist and that they are being deliberately withheld from the Borough

Not in a residential area and state development of an industrial park and roads to support it, not at all like the Churchill environment

6 pages showing the area, including the same layout that Hillwood just proposed, but without the full exposure to the massive size.


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 A warehouse/distribution center proposed near the intersection of Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway is headed for approval in Alcoa Planning Commission days after a request for state road funding related to the project was approved in Alcoa City Commission.

Thursday, commissioners are set to give the project a thumbs up after planning staff gave its own vote of confidence on submitted engineering designs.

Lead by development firm Hillwood Investment Associates, documents show the warehouse — termed “Project Pearl” — is estimated to cost $187.5 million and bring in $23.4 million annually in payroll.

The warehouse would be 634,812 square feet, surrounded by 1,092 parking lots and built on an 84.49-acre lot according to planning notes.

Images accompanying those notes show a building with about 50 loading docks and a blue metal panel border at the top edge.

Additionally, documents call the facility a “development prospect of the Joint Industrial Development Board of Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County,” but local leaders won’t say yet what business wants to move in there.

However, many aspects of the project including architectural features and the various development entities involved are similar to Amazon fulfillment center projects across the U.S.

Hillwood has developed some of them and the proposed Alcoa location — which would be built on the former Pine Lakes Golf Course — has already been partially designed by commercial real estate architects Ware Malcomb, an Atlanta-based company that has worked on Amazon projects for years.

The Daily Times contacted Amazon representatives but has not yet received comment regarding whether or not the company is associated with the proposed warehouse.

Leaders say there is no commitment from Hillwood yet, but an announcement as to whether it will choose Blount to build is forthcoming.

Regardless, commissioners today, Oct. 15, are set to approve the first site plans the city has seen on the project.

City Planner Jeremy Pearson explained in an email that sometimes groups involved in development begin submitting plans before a project is locked in, but they also seek municipal blessing before making a final decision.

“During a developer prospect’s due diligence period, it is not uncommon for an applicant to present drawings for a project (large or small) for consideration of an approval,” Pearson emailed. “The overall cost/benefit is being weighed during this time and prospects need assurances that a project will be approved.”

During a Wednesday briefing, Planning Commissioner John Rochelle asked Pearson if an engineering business that submitted the request for site plan approval, Cannon & Cannon, had worked with Alcoa before.

“There seems like there’s an awful lot of things that needed to be included that they didn’t include,” Rochelle said, noting 14 revisions planners will request if approval goes through.

Pearson said, yes, the city had previously worked with Cannon & Cannon.

“We and engineering have been working with them and working with the state to coordinate road improvements,” he explained. “There are a lot of moving parts to this project.”

He added if the warehouse did move forward, it could be before Phase III of Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Alcoa Highway relocation project. That’s part of why Alcoa City Commission approved a request Thursday to TDOT, asking for funding and management help to give the warehouse smooth highway access.

“It’s obviously a significant project for the city and we’re excited to be looking at it,” Pearson said during the briefing.

“This project has been changing in size, up and down, all the way to this point,” City Manager Mark Johnson said, building on Pearson’s comments. He noted the business that may move into the facility could employ up to 1,000 employees, but would likely start at 750.

“It’s not a done deal,” he added. “We’ve gotten this far with other projects in the past and all the sudden they decide, nope, they’re going someplace else.”

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

 TDOT documents: 630,000-square-foot ‘distribution center’ proposed in Alcoa

A more than 630,000-square-foot, 200-truck-a-day warehouse project could be coming to Alcoa and city leaders are looking to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for financing help.

In a Zoom meeting Tuesday, commissioners voted unanimously to send TDOT a request to partially fund road projects at the intersection of Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway.

That’s because developer Hillwood Investment Properties is “exploring the feasibility” of building a warehouse/distribution center there, according to commission notes.

Code-named “Project Pearl” in TDOT documents, the hypothetical development would cost $187.5 million and employ an estimated 750 people with an annual payroll of $23.4 million.

The warehouse would be built on the former Pine Lakes Golf Course property.

Commission notes state there is no guarantee Hillwood will choose to build in Alcoa, but a decision could be forthcoming within months.

That will partially depend on TDOT.

Alcoa leaders are asking the department to help develop roads in the area by footing part of the bill and managing the project. City Manager Mark Johnson said in a a phone interview Tuesday he’s not yet sure how much the city would have pay out, but the road project alone would cost nearly $16 million.

Johnson said he feels confident TDOT will agree to funding construction for the project while the city picks up 50% of the right-of-way and utility costs.

He also said he feels “pretty confident” Hillwood will pick Blount to build the warehouse, but explained a few things have to fall in place first.

“In this case, Hillwood’s timeline is so tight that they’re trying to make sure everything is going to work if they pull the trigger,” Johnson said.

Hillwood’s industrial development and investment spans 52 markets in North America and Europe and 200.8 million square feet of properties, according to its website.

It has also been involved in developing numerous Amazon fulfillment centers across the U.S.

Johnson would not say whether Amazon was attached to the warehouse proposition. Neither would a Hillwood communication representative.

An Amazon representative was not immediately able to respond to The Daily Times’ request for information on whether or not the development could become one of the company’s fulfillment centers of which there are already six in Tennessee.

A seventh is set to be be built in Mt. Juliet.

Blount Partnership Communication Director Jeff Muir gave a statement on the organization’s behalf when asked if local economic leaders knew of the warehouse proposal.

“We continuously work a number of projects at a time in both city and county commissions,” Muir said in a phone interview. “But right now, the Economic Development Board has nothing to take action on.”

Should TDOT grant the request, documents state it could be 30 months at most before construction wrapped.

Should it see completion, the road project would widen South Singleton Station Road, create new traffic signals and establish a series ramp interactions with Pellissippi Parkway, Alcoa Highway and future highway relocation work as well.

Johnson emphasized nothing is a done deal, but some of the right elements are in place.

“I feel good about (Hillwood) coming here, but not good enough,” Johnson laughed. “My philosophy has always been, like on retail, I don’t count my blessings until the cash register rings. Same thing with an industrial-type project.”

TDOT’s brief economic analysis of the mystery project showed the ratio of cost to economic benefit for the area is 2.32 to 1.

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

Amazon Continues Investment in Tennessee with Alcoa Fulfillment Center

February 3, 2021·5 min read

Documents: Massive Alcoa warehouse proposed is for Amazon

By Andrew Jones

Dec 8, 2020 Updated Jan 4, 2021

This rendering of an Amazon fulfillment center to be built in Madison County, Mississippi, is similar to one that may be built by Hillwood Investment Properties at the intersection of Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway. Documents show e-commerce giant Amazon is in talks with Hillwood to use the building as a distribution center.

  • Artist rendering via AP Business Wire

The Former Pine Lakes Golf Course is in the lower center of this aerial photograph taken in April 2015. The area is being considered for a large warehouse project lead by developer Hillwood Investment Properties.

Preliminary designs from Alcoa Planning documents show a more than 634,000-square-foot footprint warehouse near the intersection of Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway.

Designs for a warehouse proposed at the intersection of Pellissippi Parkway and Alcoa Highway show a building with about 50 loading docks and a blue border on the top edge.

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Bottom of Form

A distribution hub proposed for Alcoa would be occupied by e-commerce giant Amazon, according to a legal contract signed in November by a company representative and a principal at developer Hillwood Investment Properties.

Documents obtained by The Daily Times through public records requests included a reimbursement agreement between HW Investor III LP and Services LLC for engineering design services on “Project Pearl” — a massive warehouse that would be built near the intersection of Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway on the site of the former Pine Lakes Golf Course.

City of Alcoa Planning and Tennessee Department of Transportation documents show the multi-level warehouse would be built on a 634,812-square-foot pad.

The reimbursement agreement discusses $4,461,400 in design, engineering, permitting, environmental and other services on “Project Pearl,” for work necessary before the warehouse’s construction. While the project’s footprint is 634,000 square feet, the warehouse in total could exceed a million square feet because the building will have multi-stories and be about 100 feet tall.

The agreement was signed on Nov. 18 by John Magness, a senior vice president and general partner for HW Investor III, and Mark Griffin, an authorized representative for Amazon.

Though the agreement does reveal Amazon to be the company that would move into Hillwood’s warehouse should the developer choose to build, it does not confirm Amazon’s commitment to the project, a decision Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson said during an October interview may come before 2021. Johnson emailed a “no comment” to the newspaper Tuesday.

Gaining access

Alcoa public records first noted Project Pearl in October, when City Commission documents and a State Industrial Access (SIA) agreement announced the proposed warehouse would employ 750 people and involve estimated daily traffic of 200 trucks, plus employee vehicles.

According to emails and documents shared between TDOT employees from August through mid-November — also obtained by The Daily Times through a public records request — Hillwood-contracted engineers, Alcoa officials, local and state-level chambers of commerce and others have been trying to figure out a smooth highway access plan for the warehouse.

Hillwood’s interest in building a bustling Amazon hub complicates in some ways TDOT’s long-planned Alcoa Highway relocation project.

The relocation would involve a new intersection with Pellissippi Parkway just north of Cusick Road. That’s almost directly on top of the old 85-acre Pine Lakes Golf Course, where Hillwood wants to build.

Questions about how to give the warehouse effective north and southbound access to Alcoa Highway abound in TDOT emails. Correspondence indicates department personnel worked closely with Knoxville-based Cannon & Cannon engineers — contracted by Hillwood — to come up with both permanent and temporary highway access plans for the warehouse.

State, city costs

Though documents pertaining to the warehouse originally indicated it would be 823,173 square feet of “rentable space,” that size was adjusted after conversations with local leaders.

TDOT’s SIA agreement states the warehouse would cost an estimated $187.5 million to build and generate an annual payroll of $23.4 million — with average hourly wages of $15.

Because the city and state would need to improve roads in the area surrounding the site, Alcoa may have to commit more than $3.25 million in right-of-way and utility expenses.

TDOT would end up paying nearly $13 million just for roadwork to support the warehouse.

Documents indicate the project is supposed to be complete by May 2022.

The Daily Times on Tuesday reached out to leaders and communications personnel with the Blount Partnership, the city of Alcoa, Hillwood and Amazon. Many had previously declined to comment on the warehouse project and most did not return calls by press time Tuesday.

Not in a residential area and state development of an industrial park and roads to support it, not at all like the Churchill environment

6 pages showing the area, including the same layout that Hillwood just proposed, but without the full exposure to the massive size.