The city’s planning agency is scheduled to vote next week on a warehouse development in Pullman that is backed by Amazon, which wants the site for its “last mile” system of sorting and delivering within the Chicago area.
Construction has started on underground utilities for the planned 144,000-square-foot building near 104th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, part of the Pullman Park industrial and retail development. The Chicago Plan Commission will consider a zoning change for the project at a virtual meeting May 21, according to an agenda posted online.
Amazon confirmed its interest in the property Wednesday after previously offering no comment. Others close to the development have confirmed for weeks Amazon is the impetus for the project.
“We are excited to continue our investment in the greater Chicago area and provide great job opportunities for the talented workforce,” Amazon spokeswoman Shone Jemmott said. She said the Pullman site will be a delivery station, which in its system is a smaller operation than a fulfillment center but still a significant source of jobs.
Ald. Anthony Beale, whose 9th Ward includes Pullman, said Amazon signed a lease for the site in recent days. When Beale ballyhooed the Amazon connection back in January, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, with whom Beale has butted heads, said the alderman was getting “a little ahead of himself” regarding the deal.
Interviewed Tuesday, Beale said, “It was a solid deal when I first announced it months ago, and it’s a solid deal today.” He said Amazon wants to be in the new building by October to gear up for holiday business.
Several hundred full-time jobs could be created at the facility, Beale said. He also said the facility will be designed to accommodate many electric delivery vehicles.
The construction is being handled by the property’s owner, Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies U.S., which declined to comment. Ryan has built other facilities for Amazon, including a large fulfillment center to open late this year outside Des Moines, Iowa.
Property records show Ryan acquired the site, part of an old Ryerson Steel factory, last July for $3.2 million. The seller was Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, the master developer of Pullman Park.
David Doig, president of CNI, said Ryan just got its building permit. “The project is moving ahead 100% and construction should be going vertical very soon,” he said. Doig said the site figures in Amazon’s need for “last mile” collection and sorting of items for Chicago-area customers.
The city’s Department of Planning and Development could not be reached for comment on the pending zoning change. Action by the plan commission would send the matter to the City Council for a committee hearing and final vote.
Beale formerly advocated a property tax break to support the project, but he said that has been dropped and no public subsidies are planned. Because of complaints about Amazon’s labor practices, the Chicago Federation of Labor had opposed giving the company a Class 6B designation, which reduces property taxes for industrial development.
The labor federation is an investor in Sun-Times Media. Through a spokesman, Beale said the Class 6B was dropped to ensure the project’s zoning will get a speedy review.