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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jan. 29, 202005:20 AM EST

Amazon seeks Jacksonville buildings for last-mile delivery centers

The internet retailer wants to convert the closed Blanding Kmart for a 200-job facility and looks for more sites.

Internet retailer plans to hire about 200 people at the last-mile fulfillment delivery center it wants to operate at the former Kmart store along Blanding Boulevard.

It doesn’t intend to stop there.

The Seattle-based e-commerce company wants to open more last-mile delivery facilities in the Jacksonville area.

“They’re very active in Florida and hope to continue to grow in Northeast Florida and continue to look for sites,” said Jimerson Burr partner Patrick Krechowski, a land-use attorney.

Internet retailer is converting a former Kmart at 4645 Blanding Blvd. into a last-mile fulfillment delivery center.

Krechowski represents Amazon Logistics’ search for last-mile logistics centers in Northeast Florida. 

Amazon Logistics reports on its website that it is expanding its network of delivery providers with its “last mile revolution.”

“They prefer existing structures – vacant warehouses, vacant big boxes,” he said.

“It lessens the time to get them up and running,” he said, compared with new construction.

Factors include the location, ease of permitting and available parking. “They need lots of parking due to employee vehicles and delivery vehicles,” Krechowski said.

The minimum size is 50,000 to 60,000 square feet, he said. Amazon’s first last-mile delivery center occupies about 115,500 square feet in North Jacksonville. 

Krechowski provided more detail about the Blanding Boulevard Kmart’s proposed use and job count to the Jacksonville Planning Commission on Jan. 23.

The commission recommended approval to rezone the property at 4645 Blanding Blvd. The City Council Land Use & Zoning Committee scheduled a public hearing for 5 p.m. Feb. 4.

Ordinance 2019-877 seeks to rezone 11.37 acres at the property, between Blanding and Wesconnett boulevards in Southwest Jacksonville.

The bill would change the zoning from commercial community general-2 to planned unit development to allow the 111,718-square-foot center, with vehicle staging.

The Kmart store has been vacant for seven years. Blanding Self Storage LLC owns the site. Amazon intends to lease it.

The center is described in the Nov. 20 written description of the Blanding Boulevard PUD.

It says the project proposes 129 delivery van spaces, 231 standard car spaces and eight accessible spaces, totaling 368 onsite parking spaces. Amazon is likely to secure nearby property for additional parking or delivery vehicle staging, Krechowski said.

The written description says the distribution facility will receive line-haul truck deliveries of packages that are sorted by routes and placed into delivery vans.

Krechowski said Amazon uses a combination of its vans and those contracted with local fleet operators.

Sorting will take place during two shifts: 11 p.m.-6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., with about 65 employees per shift.

Another 10 full-time supervising managers will be staggered during the two shifts.

From 7 a.m.-1 p.m., delivery vans will be loaded with packages and depart from the property in groups of about 35 vans in 30-minute intervals. About 175 delivery vans will depart the property in a 24-hour period.

The vans return “in waves” seven to nine hours later, emptied of undelivered packages and returned to their storage space. Drivers will park their personal cars on the property to commute to work.

The Citizen Planning Advisory Committee for Southwest Planning District 4 issued a statement Jan. 23 to the commission opposing the rezoning for the Blanding Boulevard Amazon center.

Signed by committee Chair Shirley Lowry, the statement said the committee met Jan. 13 and recommended denial.

It said it appears the operation already is functional, and the committee had no knowledge of the process “or intentions of the developers.”

“Blanding Blvd. is a highly congested thoroughfare, as it is a main artery for traffic leading to all areas of the west side of Jacksonville,” it stated.

The statement said the group observed “that the time of day when many of the 18 wheelers enter and exit the area is during the peak of traffic, when citizens are going to and from work. This appears to be a dangerous combination.”

Krechowski said the center “most certainly is not open” and will not be regularly serviced by line-haul or 18-wheeled deliveries during peak traffic hours.

He said construction permits are in review. He said the only activity is “getting some abandoned vehicles off the property.”

Amazon operates four centers in Jacksonville – two large fulfillment centers in Northwest and West Jacksonville; a sortation center in Westside Industrial Park; and the North Jacksonville delivery center.

It also plans a heavy-freight delivery center at 2780 Lloyd Road in West Jacksonville.

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