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Firm linked to Amazon eyes properties near Crystal Palace

Recent real estate negotiations centered near Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace raise the intriguing possibility that Amazon may be planning to add not one but two Bakersfield distribution hubs.

People representing adjacent industrial properties along North Sillect Avenue say they have discussed a sale to Greenlaw Partners, the same Irvine-based developer proposing a distribution center at the former Kmart shopping center on Wilson Road, where tenants say Amazon is the intended operator.

A representative of Greenlaw declined Tuesday to discuss the negotiations but downplayed the likelihood of a deal coming together soon. It was unclear whether asset manager Damian Burke was referring to all three properties or just the two along North Sillect.

Amazon also declined to comment, saying it doesn’t provide information on its “future roadmap.”

Southern California commercial real-estate broker David “Dave” Kluver said Tuesday escrow was scheduled to close last month, but did not, on Greenlaw’s proposed purchase of a 67,200-square-foot warehouse at 3401 N. Sillect Ave.

Greenlaw has also discussed buying the 101,831-square-foot property immediately to the north that houses Hansen’s Moving & Storage Inc., co-owner Michael Hansen said.

But those talks seem to have “stalled out” without explanation, he said, adding it was never disclosed who was intended to operate the site.

Kluver said he asked but has been given no formal indication Amazon would operate the vacant property next to Hansen’s. However, he said he believes it would be Amazon in light of Greenlaw’s involvement with the Wilson Road property.

It’s also unclear, he said, whether Greenlaw was interested in buying all three properties or whether it was moving forward with separate discussions in order to allow a choice between setting up a distribution center on Wilson or on North Sillect.

“I’ve had no indication they aren’t just going to do them both,” he said, referring to the Wilson Road as well as the North Sillect properties. “It could be an either-or.”

In August, Amazon began operating a massive “fulfillment center” employing about 1,000 people just north of Meadows Field Airport. Such facilities serve entire regions and do not rule out the need for smaller, locally focused distribution hubs.

The North Sillect properties are zoned for industrial use and so anyone planning a distribution operation there would be allowed to do so without special permission.

That’s not the case with the Wilson Road property. In September, Greenlaw secured a conditional use permit from the city of Bakersfield’s Board of Zoning Adjustment allowing the property to be operated as a distribution hub.

Plans Greenlaw filed with the city call for preserving most of the former Kmart center’s 128,150-square-foot main building but demolishing the eastern portion, which is now home to a handful of small retail businesses. A restaurant on the property’s southeastern corner would also be cleared.

Greenlaw’s proposal says a 123,000-square-foot warehouse at the property would receive and sort six daily truckloads of consumer goods that would then be loaded onto 20 delivery vans and shipped out in staggered departure times.

A letter sent recently to the Kmart center’s tenants said the property was scheduled to be sold by Feb. 1. It did not disclose the name of the buyer and a representative of the buyer, Big J Investment LLC, declined to comment.

Follow John Cox on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf