The deal continues Amazon’s rapid pace of expansion in the Chicago area amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has supported the growth of online shopping. Amazon said it hired more than 15,000 people in Illinois last year, a 72% increase in its workforce statewide, and the company has opened half a dozen fulfillment centers and delivery stations in Chicago neighborhoods such as Pullman and Gage Park and several suburbs since early 2020.
Amazon signed 21 new leases last year for a total of 11.7 million square feet of industrial space in the Chicago area, accounting for nearly a quarter of all new industrial space leased here last year, according to data from real estate services company Colliers.
Now that momentum is about to spill over into Humboldt Park, where the 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts called the company’s plan an important step in restoring her community from economic strains exacerbated by the public health crisis.
“In addition to bringing much-needed jobs and opportunities to underemployed and unemployed local residents, it will also inspire new hope in already underprivileged neighborhoods yet recently ravaged by economic closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mitts said in a statement. .
Not all aldermen are equally welcoming to Amazon or any company that wants to build a warehouse for the storage and distribution of goods in their departments as online shopping skyrockets. Such projects have been rejected by environmental activists and community groups who argue that trucks to and from these facilities will result in traffic jams, noise and pollution that are not worth the jobs created by the investment.
Mitts stressed in his statement that this is not the case in the 37th arrondissement, where residents “need jobs and economic investment”. The company spokesperson said it was recruiting jobs in its product distribution network with an average starting salary of at least $ 16 an hour and connection bonuses in most places up to. ‘to $ 1,000.
“Long-standing issues of poverty and unemployment are exacerbating the positive interest in Amazon’s arrival, to help offset the lingering violence that is occurring in many communities such as Austin, West Garfield Park and West Humboldt ( Park), “Mitts said in the statement.
Amazon is not asking for any funding from the city to help it with its Humboldt Park project, according to Mitts, who said in his statement that the company plans to create nearly 500 jobs at the facility. A spokeswoman for Mitts said the alderman is planning to hold community meetings to review the company’s development plans.
Amazon bought the Humboldt Park property from companies controlled by Joel Fink, president and CEO of aluminum and zinc alloy producer Allied Metal. Allied is expected to close and relocate its smelter, according to a source close to the deal. The northern portion of the property includes a large vacant lot where Allied stored unwanted cars.
Asked about the deal, Fink said, “For once in my life, I have no comment to make.”
The Amazon purchase comes as work continues on a $ 50 million in industrial redevelopment immediately north of the property, where Chicago-based developer IBT and Morningstar billionaire founder Joe Mansueto are transforming a group of former 250,000-square-foot warehouses at 1334 N. Kostner Ave. into creative offices, nicknamed the Terminal.
The addition of Amazon to the neighborhood makes West Humboldt Park a booming destination for economic development in a historically devastated part of town, a top priority for Mayor Lori Lightfoot through his INVEST South / West initiative which is designed to revive trade corridors in 10 South and West Side Quarters.
His administration is soliciting bids from developers to revive the vacant iconic Pioneer Bank building at 4000 W. North Ave., less than a mile from the future Amazon site, into a mix of commercial space. , rental housing and for sale.