Amazon Logistics has signed a lease in Baton Rouge for a delivery station that's been under construction to increase the speed of package delivery in the region.
Amazon, which has operated a tent-like delivery facility in the city for nearly two years, is expected to hire hundreds of people for full-time and part-time work at the new delivery station at minimum hourly pay of $15. The site is expected to open by the end of the year, the company said.
The 111,918-square-foot South Baton Rouge Distribution Center was built by Atlanta-based developer Seefried Industrial Properties on land purchased from Bethany Church near Siegen Lane and Reiger Road. Bethany Christian School was dismantled and relocated on Bethany's property to make way for the center.
Amazon posted an 'area manager of operations' job on LinkedIn about a week ago in Baton Rouge.
Amazon has more than 150 delivery stations across the country. The last-mile delivery is completed by independent contractor businesses, which hire workers to drive the Amazon vans. Those workers are not employees of Amazon.
Another program Amazon uses to deliver packages is known as Amazon Flex, in which members of the public, as independent contractors, sign up with the online retail giant to fill their own personal vehicles with packages for delivery in the region. The company touted the use of Amazon Flex at the Baton Rouge site as well.
The distribution center, near Fieldstone Drive and Honore Lane, includes office space, storage and a truck dock for up to 16 tractor trailers, documents on file with the city-parish show. The Industriplex project plans also include 234 employee parking spots, 12 bicycle parking spots, 712 delivery van parking spots and 18 parking spots for 18-wheeler trucks.
Amazon typically builds two types of buildings in markets where it seeks to offer faster shipping to customers. One is a fulfillment center and the other is a distribution center, also known as a delivery station.
Fulfillment centers feed to regional sort centers and then delivery stations.
Fulfillment centers are typically 1 million-square-foot warehouses with hundreds of employees; some have robotic assistance for workers to fulfill online orders. There are more than 175 Amazon fulfillment centers across the world, according to its website.
Delivery stations are typically smaller in size. In some markets there is more than one distribution center, which enables the logistics business to deliver products to customers faster than two-day shipping.
Amazon, a major online retailer that has expanded rapidly in recent years, already operates a 21,000-square-foot tent structure on land it leased in 2018 off Airline Highway near the Costco at Interstate 12. The structure has been duplicated in several cities around the country, many with the stipulation they are temporary and to be used for a maximum two years.
Earlier this year, the former Virginia College site at the mostly vacant Cortana Mall was put back up for sale after a deal fell through with developer Seefried because of issues in getting control of other parcels on the site for what could have been a 1,000-job facility.
The Amazon-affiliated developer has not returned to the bargaining table as of Tuesday, according to the owner of the former Virginia College site, Wilson LaFoe. There also has not been any sales recorded changing ownership of Macy's since the deal fell apart.
The large anchor store buildings at Cortana are owned individually, as is the internal section of the former mall. Only a Dillard's clearance center is still operating among the anchor properties. Dillard's declined comment in May about any real estate deals, citing company policy.
Amazon declined an interview in May and did not confirm an interest in Cortana Mall, citing company policy. It also had not commented on the distribution warehouse under construction by Seefried in the Industriplex development until Tuesday's press release announcement about the lease signing.
Local and state officials also have been mum about Amazon until now.
"Amazon's investment within our city and parish will further fuel my administration’s efforts in creating an economy for the future," Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said in a statement sent by Amazon.
"Amazon’s investment in Louisiana enhances our logistics sector by providing new career opportunities and crucial consumer connections," Gov. John Bel Edwards said in the press release.
The company already operates a distribution center in the New Orleans area in Elmwood where warehouse workers sort packages before delivery.