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BOISE — Amazon is looking to expand its Idaho shipping capabilities with a new cargo facility at the Boise Airport. 

The Boise City Council last week approved a lease agreement between Amazon, the online retail giant, and the city, which operates the airport. As part of the agreement, the city will build an access road, taxiway and ramp facilities for Amazon's cargo amenity, which includes a 30,000-square-foot building to be located south of the runway along Gowen Road. 

For the building, which is to be constructed at the company's expense, Amazon will lease from the airport a vacant 150,000-square-foot parcel adjacent to the SkyWest (Airlines) Hangar. Amazon will pay the city about $60,000 annually for the land in addition to plane landing and parking fees.

Meanwhile, the city will front $22 million of airport revenues to fund the road and taxiway improvements. Part of that money is eligible for a reimbursement from the Federal Aviation Administration, if another commercial airport user utilizes the taxiway and ramp improvements.

Council members unanimously approved the agreement. Councilman Patrick Bageant was absent.

Council President Elaine Clegg said the city's investment is not exclusively to benefit Amazon. The improvements will open runway access to vacant land south of Gowen Road, which the airport may lease, and it's a step toward building a bridge over Gowen Road and possibly a third airport runway in the area, Clegg said.

"It is a big investment, but it's an investment that will serve not just Amazon (but) other users in that end of the airport," she said. "I hope that citizens understand that this is the kind of investment in the long-term future of the airport, and, yes, it does serve this one user today but in the long-run it serves a lot more than that." 

The air cargo facility is the second Treasure Valley-based project by the online retailer in recent years. Last year, Amazon opened Idaho's first fulfillment center in Nampa. 

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean lauded airport staff and Director Rebecca Hupp for targeting land within and around the airport which can be "used to build economic opportunity for everyone."

"We really look to the airport…to be strategic in how we grow our economy and develop opportunities on the airport property," McLean said. 

Councilwoman Holli Woodings said some Boise residents told her they are concerned with the level of the city's investment. But Woodings praised Hupp and said she trusts the director's decisions.

"She runs a tight ship, and she would not make this investment if she didn't think that the residents of Boise, through the economic vibrancy that our airport provides, would be repaid in full," Woodings said.

Ryan Suppe is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley business reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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