Exclusive: Amazon leases future mega warehouse near Bear
BEAR – Amazon is continuing its rapid expansion in Delaware with the leasing of a more than 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse being developed at a former gravel pit.
The e-commerce giant signed a lease this month to back a nearly $139 million loan secured by the Pennsylvania-based developer who is aiming to build a pair of mega warehouses along the U.S. Route 13 corridor.
The warehouse is being developed by Keith Stoltz, of Bala Cynwyd-based Stoltz Real Estate Partners. The Stoltz-connected subsidiary Blue Diamond Park LLC – the name is an homage to the former amusement park that long operated at the property north of Hamburg Road – bought the 125-acre site at 780 S. DuPont Highway from a Greggo and Ferrara subsidiary for more than $31.2 million earlier this month.
With a slated ground floor size of more than 1 million square feet, the facility would be among the largest warehouses in Delaware. The project is properly zoned and has already obtained its construction permit, clearing the way of any potential development obstacles. According to plans submitted to the state earlier this year, Stoltz anticipates opening the facility in 2021.
Attempts to reach Stoltz through his legal counsel were unsuccessful Tuesday, but Amazon spokeswoman Jenna Hilzenrath said the company was excited about the development.
“We’re excited to continue our growth and investment in Delaware with a new fulfillment center in New Castle that will serve our customers across the state,” she said. “This site will create thousands of new job opportunities – with highly competitive pay, benefits from day one, and training programs for in-demand jobs – and we’re committed to driving a positive economic impact in the community.”
Jonathan Starkey, a spokesman for Gov. John Carney, told Delaware Business Times that the news added to the job gains made under the governor’s first term.
“Throughout this COVID-19 crisis, Gov. Carney and his team have continued working hard to attract good jobs to Delaware. There are good reasons for businesses to invest in our state. Delaware has the lowest taxes for families in the region, a science-based workforce, world-class beaches, and easy access to major cities. We think Delaware will be well-positioned to keep competing for new, good jobs as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in an email Tuesday night.
The former UPS customer service center at 765 Hamburg Road as well as the former Blue Diamond Park amusement park would reportedly be razed under the development plan, which would build a warehouse with a roughly 1.1 million-square-foot footprint and a roughly 250,000-square-foot mezzanine. The approved plans call for 123 loading docks, 728 passenger vehicle parking spaces, and 330 tractor-trailer parking spaces.
The facility – known in Amazon parlance as ILG1, the first state facility to be named after the New Castle Airport after previous ones were internally referred to by PHL, or Philadelphia International Airport’s code – is a non-sort fulfillment center, meaning it will handle larger or bulky items such as patio furniture, outdoor equipment, or rugs. According to Amazon’s website, non-sort facilities typically employ 1,000 or more people.
Amazon has been racing to meet exploding demand from millions of customers who are spending more time indoors and shopping online while eschewing outdoor activities amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. The company has announced four hiring sprees this year to meet the demand, including adding 100,000 jobs nationwide in September.
Even before the pandemic struck, Amazon was looking to dramatically expand its reach and speed up delivery times to try to meet the eventual goal of same-day order arrival. Just this year, it has signed four leases totaling more than 1 million square feet in the greater Philadelphia area or southern New Jersey.
Aside from its existing 200,000-square-foot New Castle facility and 1 million-square-foot Middletown center in Delaware, Amazon has leased the five-story, 3.8 million-square-foot facility under construction by Nevada-based developer Dermody at the former General Motors Boxwood plant in Newport. That fulfillment center, which is still on track to open next year, will be the largest building in Delaware when completed.
This month, Dermody also submitted plans to New Castle County to build a smaller warehouse measuring about 220,000 square feet on the northeast corner of the Newport property. When reached by DBT on Tuesday, Dermody Partner Jeff Zygler declined to discuss whether the new warehouse was connected to Amazon or if another tenant was identified.
Meanwhile, should Amazon continue looking for expansion opportunities in the First State, Stoltz also has plans for a roughly 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse off Churchmans Road, adjoining the New Castle County Airport, about 3 miles north of the now-confirmed Amazon site. That project measures 653,000 square feet on its ground floor, with the remaining space found in a mezzanine. It will feature 615 employee parking spaces, 267 tractor-trailer parking spots and 121 loading docks.
By Jacob Owens