Amazon warehouse postponed opening, construction still on track | News

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Originally planned to begin operations in May 2022, the first Blount County Amazon warehouse in Alcoa, off South Singleton Station Road, is postponing opening until June 2023.

However, the facility, commonly known as “Project Pearl,” will still be built on time.

Bryan Daniels, CEO of Blount Partnership, said Amazon will be moving forward to complete the construction as promised, “so that hasn’t changed at all.”

“It all comes down to supply chain,” Daniels continued. “It’s hard to bring on facilities when you can’t get all the product in to fill them. And we’re all experiencing that now across all our industries, so we understand that.”

Amazon applied for a building permit for the warehouse in January, with an estimated cost of construction at $63,415,342.

For now, Daniels said the build of the warehouse will stay on pace while Amazon, and the country, wait for supply chain stress to “alleviate.” The only change to the plan is a one-year gap between the completion of the warehouse and when it’ll be put to use.

Based on his conversations with Amazon, Daniels said hiring will begin in the fall or winter, potentially bleeding into early 2023, instead of this summer.

According to previous reporting from The Daily Times, this facility will be a “sortable fulfillment center,” which is one of the largest types of buildings the company uses and could create 750-1,000 jobs.

Amazon communications manager for Tennessee and Mississippi, Divina Mims, confirmed the updated timeline, for what Amazon labeled “DNA6” — Project Pearl.

“We still plan to launch a new facility in Blount County, providing many great jobs to the area, starting at $15 per hour with comprehensive benefits from day one,” Mims stated in an email response to The Daily Times. “The only thing that’s changed with our plans is the exact timing. We are a dynamic business and we have dozens of fulfillment centers, sortation centers and delivery stations that are evolving and under construction across the country. It’s common for us to adjust launch timetables based on capacity needs across the network.”

The push back won’t have any affect on the Alcoa-funded aspect of the project. Daniels said Alcoa is building an access to Pellissippi Parkway until the Alcoa Highway bypass, a Tennessee Department of Transportations project, is completed.

TDOT community relations officer for East Tennessee, Mark Nagi, told The Daily Times that TDOT will have to complete certain parts of the Alcoa Highway relocation in a specific order to accommodate the warehouse during construction.

Nagi told The Daily Times in an email on Friday that TDOT hasn’t received any indication of a delay in Amazon’s plans.

“Our contractor has a completion date that aligns with the original Amazon timeline, and we anticipate meeting that date,” Nagi said.

Two other warehouses are in the works for Blount County, both located in Maryville.

One called “Project Shamrock” will be a sortation facility, former Daily Times reporting states, which are facilities where customer orders are sorted and stacked into trucks to be sent to their final destination.

Located in Maryville’s Partnership Park South, preliminary designs showed this facility would have 78 loading docks, 323 trailer truck parking stalls and 459 car parking lots.

City of Maryville public information officer, Jane Groff, said this project is in progress.

Another Amazon project, “DNA8,” is a proposed 142,930-square-foot warehouse with space for 926 people and more than 150 staging and loading spaces for vans and trucks.

The warehouse will be located in a 45-acre portion of Laurel Branch Park.

Groff said this project wouldn’t be breaking ground for another six to 12 months.

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