Amazon meets with community about new warehouse
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 11:46

New fulfillment center at former GM site slated to open in 2015

 by Ben Boehl

    At a July 22 public meeting at Zion Baptist Church of Christ on Broening Highway, local residents finally met face-to-face with representatives of about the online retail giant’s plans for a new warehouse facility in the Dundalk area.        
    In October, Amazon announced a plan to open a one-million-square-foot fulfillment center on the 184-acre former General Motors (GM) property near Holabird Avenue and Broening Highway.
    Amazon also announced in April that a second center, which will be a 350,000-square-foot sorting center, will be built on Holabird Avenue alongside the previously-announced warehouse on Broening Highway.
    While Amazon representatives said at the meeting that the buildings are near completion, the warehouse is not scheduled to open until the spring of 2015. Brian Strohl of Duke Realty, which owns the property, told The Eagle in April that Amazon wanted the buildings ready by Sept 14.

It was revealed at the meeting that the warehouse will operate seven days a week, with approximately 1,000 employees working four 10-hour shifts. Amazon also stated that employees will be paid wages 30 percent higher than in most retail jobs, the work area is safer than most retail positions and part-time employees will receive benefits.
    The hiring process is expected to start two months before the opening of the fulfillment center.
    Guy Kalbach, human resources manager at Amazon, said the company is looking for people with a high school diploma and an “excellent attitude.” He added that workers will be trained.
    “We have a responsibility to give our associates a chance to succeed,” Kalbach noted.
    Shirley Gregory, president of the St. Helena Community Association, said that she is worried that the jobs will only be available to city residents.
    “The city needs jobs, but we are close to Dundalk. Our community is split on the city-county line,” Gregory said.
    Mike Grella, Director of Economic Development at Amazon responded that all residents within the metropolitan area will be considered, and hiring will not be exclusively for Baltimore City residents.
    “We are not hiring ‘an area.’ We are trying to outreach throughout the area,” Grella explained.
    “We are not going to limit ourselves to the talent throughout the area. Everyone will have an opportunity. No matter what part of the city-county line.”
    Celestine “Babe” Grabowski, president of the Graceland Park Improvement Association, asked if there will be a lot of traffic in the area and wanted to know if a delivery service such as UPS or Federal Express might set up a satellite station within the Amazon area.
    Grabowski was told that no carrier station would be built and that traffic should not be an issue. Grella said trucks will be coming inbound and outbound gradually throughout the day.
    David Hamilton, who coordinates traffic for Amazon, said the company takes steps to ensure low-levels of traffic. Hamilton pointed to a program under which Amazon will try to coordinate with employees on car pooling and providing information on mass transit.
    “We want to provide people with the best transportation options possible,” Hamilton said.