6,000 acres make up Aerotropolis as Amazon readies distribution center

Amazon is wrapping up construction at a new fulfillment center and Penske is planning a new development in Wayne County near the airport. But this is only the beginning of a region that's being dubbed Aerotropolis. 

The 6,000 acres that span multiple counties is unused and just waiting for development and according to Robert Luce, this has been in the works for a decade.

"The Aerotropolis has been around as an idea or a concept for 10-15 years," Luce said.

Amazon is on board and will be ready for the 2018 Christmas rush at the Ecorse Road fulfillment center in Romulus.  Once done, it will be 850,000 square feet and employ 1,600 people. 

It's one of three big developments that span the massive amount of land from Washtenaw to Wayne County, much of which is vacant.   

"But it's not just a vacant land. It's the transportation assets that surround them. We have five airlines, three freeways and two airports in this area and there's a lot of reasons for companies to locate in close proximity to those assets," Luce said.

The other two projects making up the developing Aerotropolis are German manufacturer Brose which is expanding it's footprint in Huron Twp. and Penske, which is opening up a facility in Romulus. Together, Amazon, Brose, and Penske will bring in 2,3000 jobs.

The idea of making a transportation, logistics  and distributing hub has been tossed around for a while.  Now, it's taking off. 

"We are a platform for the state and the county and local municipalities to come together to help drive economic investment and corporate development in this region," Luce said.

The total investment in the project is more than $340 million while the three projects on the books add up to almost 2 million square feet.  But there's even more land and fertile ground for more growth. 

"If you're looking to build a new facility weathered be a 50,000 square-foot or 1 million square-foot like some of the projects that are already under construction, there's a lot of opportunity for you to do so," Luce said.

The American Center for Mobility is also planning a site to test autonomous vehicle technology in Ypsilanti.