United Natural Foods, Inc., a Providence, R.I., distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods, announced plans to consolidate its four existing Denver, Colo.-based distribution facilities into a new 535,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility located at Gateway Park in Aurora, Colo. The new facility is expected to commence operations in the summer of 2013.

Situated near I-70 in the Denver International Airport corridor, the new facility will serve as a distribution hub for retailers in the Rocky Mountain region, as well as Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The existing facilities’ consolidation, all located within Aurora, extends the company’s focus on enhancing efficiencies, improving productivity through “best-in-class” warehousing and inventory control systems, lowering operating costs in its distribution network and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The distribution facility will be leased from The Pauls Corp.

"With new and efficient operations and all our associates located together, this new facility should enable us to continue to expand our operations while reducing operating costs,” says Steve Spinner, president and CEO. “Denver and Aurora are great communities with a strong and receptive workforce. We are very excited about continuing our long-standing relationship in the area with a single, centrally-located facility at Gateway Park.”

United Natural Foods noted that no jobs are expected to be impacted in this transition. The new distribution facility is expected to open with 475 associates; increasing up to 550 associates within the first three years based on current plans for increased capacity to meet demand.

The new distribution facility will feature approximately 160,000 square feet of refrigeration and freezer space, including an expanded cold dock, and more than 42,000 square feet for employee offices and workspaces. Environmental design plans will focus on resource and energy conservation, use of sustainable and recycled-content building materials and exceptional indoor air quality for the building occupants.

United Natural Foods also plans to pursue LEED certification once operations commence.