Amazon is expanding in Joliet.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant signed the biggest Chicago-area industrial lease so far this year for a 1 million-square-foot facility at 4300 South Brandon Road, Crain’s reported.
The deal is the first big local warehouse lease in several months for Amazon, which went on a real estate buying spree and signed more than 20 industrial deals in Chicago in 2020 alone. Amazon finished 2021 with twice as much of its own warehouse, distribution and data center space as it began the year. Its biggest local industrial deal of 2021 was the lease of a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse in Huntley that will employ 1,000 people.
The new Amazon facility, which will rise next to the Harbor Freight Tools distribution center, could employ several hundred people, based on workforce totals for other Amazon distribution centers of a similar size.
Amazon is the largest private-sector employer in the Chicago area, with an estimated 27,000 workers, a marked increase from the 16,600 it had in 2020.
While Amazon has created thousands of jobs, some critics say the clogged roads and air pollution from delivery vans aren’t worth the tradeoff. Labor advocates have also raised concerns about the working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses.
Over the past six months, Amazon has bought a number of development sites. In August, it paid $85 million for a 133-acre site in Sunrise, Florida, where it plans to build a fulfillment center. A month later, Amazon said it would build a distribution center on almost 60 acres of undeveloped land it bought in Pleasanton, California.
The new property in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center is just up the street from another warehouse Amazon leases at 3900 South Brandon Road for its Kindle e-book business.
With the newest lease in Joliet, Amazon has leased at least 56 Chicago-area industrial buildings totaling more than 30 million square feet. According to Crain’s research, at least eight of Amazon’s buildings in the area are more than 1 million square feet, which is the equivalent of 17 football fields.
[CCB] — Victoria Pruitt