Amazon to open big Joliet warehouse at CenterPoint Intermodal Center – Crain's Chicago Business


The industrial building under construction last year.

Amazon is gobbling up less warehouse space these days, but it hasn’t sated its appetite yet.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant has leased a 1 million-square-foot industrial building in an intermodal park in Joliet, the biggest Chicago-area industrial lease this year, according to a report from real estate brokerage Colliers International.
It’s also the first big local warehouse lease in several months for Amazon, which went on a real estate binge in the early months of the pandemic, cutting nearly two dozen industrial deals in the Chicago area in 2020 alone, according to real estate information provider CoStar Group. To improve its coverage of the market and speed up delivery times, the online retailer embarked on an aggressive expansion of its distribution network, accounting for a huge share of all industrial leasing in the Chicago area that year.
But the firm plans to expand more slowly, Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky told analysts in a February conference call. “We see that moderating,” he said.
It’s unclear how many people will work at the Amazon distribution center, but it could employ several hundred or more, based on workforce totals for other Amazon properties similar size. The company has been expanding so rapidly here that it recently became the largest private-sector employer in the Chicago area, with an estimated 27,000 workers, up from about 16,600 in 2020, according to Crain’s research.
Across the border in Wisconsin, Amazon also recently signed a lease for another 1 million-square-foot warehouse near an existing Amazon fulfillment center along Interstate 94 in Kenosha. In its biggest local industrial deal of 2021, Amazon leased a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse in Huntley, northwest of Chicago, that will employ 1,000 people.
In Joliet, the company will move into a new warehouse at 4300 Brandon Road, in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center. The property is just south of another warehouse, at 3900 Brandon Road, where Amazon leases about 250,000 square feet for its Kindle e-book business.
Though the company’s hiring spree has created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, Amazon’s critics have focused on the trade-offs, criticizing the company for clogging roads and polluting air with its trucks and vans. Labor advocates also have raised concerns about working conditions at its warehouses. Workers at an Amazon distribution center in New York City recently voted to join a union, the first successful organizing drive at one of the company’s U.S. warehouses.
In Joliet, Amazon leases two other industrial buildings about 6 miles away. It’s unclear if the company plans to close those facilities and consolidate its operations in the new building. An Amazon spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. An executive at CenterPoint Properties, the Oak Brook-based developer of the intermodal park, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The new Amazon warehouse is just south of two massive distribution centers developed by CenterPoint and leased to Walmart and Harbor Freight Tools in the past year or so.
Including the new Joliet warehouse, Amazon has leased at least 56 Chicago-area industrial buildings totaling more than 30 million square feet, according to CoStar and Crain’s research. At least eight of its buildings here exceed 1 million square feet—the equivalent of 17 football fields.
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