The Pass area’s largest distribution warehouse facility to date will be built near Banning’s municipal airport.
The 1 million square-foot Banning Distribution Center project would eclipse the Wolverine Worldwide apparel distribution warehouse in Beaumont, which is 720,000 square feet.
Three vacant undeveloped lots will now be rezoned to enable the giant edifice to move forward, merging them into a single lot: the building would consist of 990,000 square-feet of high-cube (non-refrigerated) industrial-warehouse space, as well as 10,000 square-feet of office space along the southeastern portion of the city on 63.9 acres north of the Banning Municipal Airport, and south of the I-10 freeway and the Union Pacific Railroad line.
The project includes funding of road improvements for John Street, which will be the main access via Lincoln Street to the east.
No tenant was publicly disclosed for the project, and Bill Patton, developer with Irvine-based Banning Industrial LP, seemed encouraged that a project that has been in the works for eight years is finally seeing the light of day.
“In effect, we’ll be building to suit,” he said during the Dec. 11 city council meeting. While he did not offer a name of a potential tenant, he explained that “No buildings I know of in Southern California that are this size are empty. This building is designed to be split into four units, which is not our preference, but available based on potential tenants,” who could potentially modify the building later.
Companies his firm has courted for other warehouses this size include Smuckers and Walmart, “AAA-type tenants that are good for the city, good for the county, and good for us as long-term owners.”
Regardless who moves in, Patton assured, “This is not a warehouse” where items will be sitting for long periods on shelves. “They will be moving through the building, which means jobs.”
More specifically, Stephanie Standerfer, vice president of Riverside-based Albert A. Webb Associates, projects at least 500 full-time permanent jobs: it was explained to the council that economists usually associate one job per 2,000 square-feet of warehouse space.
The Sierra Club initially expressed concern over pollution from idling trucks, which was echoed by newly elected council member Colleen Wallace.
Standerfer explained that whoever moves in will be required to have upgraded truck fleets if any trucks were built before 2007.
Council was told that nothing is enforceable until a user has moved in, and they can see what kinds of trucks — and how many — will be coming and going from the site.
Newly elected council member David Happe initially expressed concern that the space would no longer be accessible to the public; it was explained to him that the area is intended to be zoned as airport industrial, limiting the public’s access; further, the location between the airport and the freeway was not considered ideal open space for public use.
Happe said, “Banning will need jobs. It’s the right location next to the railroad and the airport, and it won’t be a (negative) visual impact. Overall it’s a great project.”
Councilman Don Peterson dismissed any legal concerns other than frivolous lawsuits, confident that the city and the applicant has done its due diligence in planning for the project.
The Banning Distribution Center was approved unanimously 5-0.
The project can now move forward with its permitting process.
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at email@example.com , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.