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Amazon leases former DuPont warehouse in Seaford

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NAI Coastal bought a Seaford warehouse for $7 million in late 2020. Now it will be the site of the latest Delaware Amazon facility. | PHOTO COURESY OF NAI COASTAL

SEAFORD — Amazon, the e-commerce juggernaut, is continuing its Delaware expansion by leasing a large warehouse in Sussex County to push its rural distribution service.

The 104,000-square-foot warehouse at 1700 Dulaney St. is a remnant of the DuPont nylon plant that once dominated Seaford’s economy. Amazon officials and property owner NAI Coastal have applied for a preliminary site plan with Seaford City Council to expand the parking lot to 423 vans and 150 employee parking spots.

Amazon is expected to create “hundreds of full and part-time jobs” that start at $15 an hour once it opens by the end of 2021, according to Amazon representatives.

Over the past 18 months, Amazon has doubled down on its investment in Delaware with a new warehouse at the Delaware Logistics Center and a 3.8 million-square-foot mega warehouse at the former General Motors Boxwood site in New Castle. But this marks the first time the online retailer giant has ventured to Sussex County, in a bid to expedite shipping in rural Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Seaford Mayor David Genshaw said that rumors have swirled for the past 18 months that Amazon may be on the hunt for a Delmarva presence, but the prospect became real in the last six months.

“What’s great about Amazon is that it’s taking over a DuPont warehouse, and that name has a lot of meaning here. It’s a worldwide company taking over for another significant company, and it offers pretty good wages and e-commerce is really booming,” Genshaw told the Delaware Business Times. “It’s really spiritually uplifting to think of the jobs that will come out of there and what it means for Seaford’s future.”

Seaford used to be a true DuPont town as “The Nylon Capital of the World.” Genshaw said when he was in high school, students wanted to work at one of its several offices and make a living wage. But once DuPont slowly started to leave, eventually shutting down the nylon plant in 2004, it left people looking for work and empty buildings in its wake.

But that may have Seaford primed for Amazon’s latest endeavor: last-mile delivery stations in rural America. Packages arrive at these stations from fulfillment or sortation centers and are loaded into vehicles for delivery. Amazon has 250 of these last-mile delivery stations nationwide. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated Amazon’s profit by 200%, it started to create small shipping hubs in rural America to fulfill deliveries. With Sussex County facing a population boom due to retirees looking for access to the beach and lower taxes, the Seaford warehouse also is poised to immediately meet a local market as well as the Delmarva peninsula.

“They see an opportunity here, and we’re fortunate enough to meet their demands. It’s a big win for Seaford and Western Sussex County, especially since it’s among the top employers in the country right now,” Gillis Gilkerson Principal Brad Gillis told DBT.

Prior to leasing, Gillis Gilkerson bought the warehouse in January for $7.09 million, according to county land records. NAI Coastal, the commercial real estate arm of Gillis Gilkerson, brokered the lease with Amazon.

Amazon will share the warehouse at 1700 Dulaney St. with Invista, a synthetic fibers company that was a DuPont company until it was sold to Koch Industries in the 2000s. Gillis told DBT that NAI Coastal is ready to provide Amazon with options to expand in Seaford.

“We have another 60,000 square feet at 1700 Dunlay St. and 80,000 square feet at the former Old Southern States building at 200 Allen St.,” Gillis said. “Amazon does have the ability to expand if they desire.”

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