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Work begins on Amazon center planned for Kernersville

Work begins on Amazon center planned for Kernersville

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Construction and grading is underway at a planned Amazon fulfillment center in Kernersville, the latest step toward what could be a 1 million-square-foot facility on Old Greensboro Road.

Jeff Hatling, Kernersville’s community development director, said Monday town officials “should be issuing the building permit this week” for the site in Triad Business Park.

Hatling said Triad Business Park “does not require any board or commission action” on land transactions.

Amazon’s proposed Triad plans for the center surfaced May 30. The center could employ up to 953 full-time and full-time equivalent workers.

A project site plan was submitted to the town May 9 by Atlanta developer Seefried Properties Inc. on behalf of Amazon. Neither company has commented publicly on the facility.

The proposed Amazon site is near the FedEx Ground operations on Old Greensboro Road in Kernersville. It’s within 10 miles of the FedEx sorting hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Amazon has not made a public request for local or state economic incentives, though it has asked for at least $13 million for a project near Charlotte-Douglas International Airport that could have up to 1,500 employees.

On July 26, Amazon affiliate DEDC LLC signed a memorandum of lease agreement for potentially up to 40 years for the three sites that Seefried bought between June 8 and June 18. Seefried has developed similar fulfillment centers for the online retailing giant.

The initial lease would run for 15 years. The agreement allows Amazon to extend the lease five times for five years each.

The memorandum also gives the Amazon affiliate the rights of first offer and first refusal to buy the property during the terms of the lease. The memorandum was signed by Jonathan Levy, a vice president for the Amazon affiliate.

That section of Old Greensboro Road is getting popular recently for major projects.

On July 19, Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. spent $2.72 million to buy an undeveloped 25.2-acre site at 1651 Old Greensboro Road, lot No. 7 in Triad Business Park. The seller was Celadon Trucking Services Inc.

John H. Boyd, a national site-selection expert based in New Jersey, has projected the Kernersville fulfillment center could represent a $150 million capital investment.

“Amazon recognized, under its new growth strategy, that it is shy of distribution centers in North Carolina,” Boyd said.

According to Glassdoor, a jobs listing and information website, the average salary for Amazon fulfillment center employees is $13 an hour, about $27,000 a year.

Several employment studies have shown that working at an Amazon fulfillment center is not for everyone. For example, Amazon makes it clear that the job can be taxing, particularly during the peak holiday shipping season of November and December. Workers can be required to work up to 12-hour shifts and walk 7 to 12 miles during a shift. Most employees must be able to lift up to 49 pounds.

Boyd said modern fulfillment centers “not only employ lower-skilled workers, like forklift operators, but also information-technology professionals doing inventory and other software-related functions.”

Amazon has about 2,000 employees in North Carolina.

rcraver@wsjournal.com 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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