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City: Amazon to Open Distribution Center In North Little Rock

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Amazon will open a “new concept” 30,000- to 40,000-SF distribution center in North Little Rock and create 65 to 100 full- and part-time jobs by this holiday season, the mayor and a local property owner said Tuesday.

The online retail giant plans to install a modular warehouse on 4.5 acres at 1920 N. Locust St., which is near the intersection of Interstates 30 and 40. The company is proposing a one-and-a-half-year lease with a two-year option that would begin on Sept. 1, property owner Norman Clifton told Arkansas Business.

Clifton said he’d been told it would take about a month for the building to go up and that the company wants to fast-track the project so that the center will be operational for the holiday season. It would be the first Amazon distribution center in Arkansas.

Clifton, who is also a former chairman of the city’s planning commission, said that if all goes well, Amazon would build a more permanent 100,000-SF center.

“We’re definitely very pleased that we were able to attract a company like Amazon to locate their first venture into Arkansas here,” North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith told Arkansas Business. “… We love to create jobs, and bringing Amazon here gives us an opportunity to continue to build that relationship with a great international company.”

News of the center was first reported in Tuesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after North Little Rock’s city council approved a zoning change Monday to accommodate the project.

An Amazon spokesman said in an email to the newspaper that the company wouldn’t comment on “speculation” about a project. But Clifton said he’s been in contact with the company, and that it’s “ready to get going.”

According to Clifton, work on the deal began about six weeks ago. That’s when he got a call from Sage Partners, a commercial real estate company with offices in Rogers, Bentonville and Little Rock. Sage told Clifton that it had a client who was looking for a 4- or 5-acre property. Clifton wasn’t told until later that the client was Amazon.  

“We got the information to the folks, and they started doing their due diligence, and it all came together. And it came together pretty fast, actually,” Clifton said. “[Amazon’s people] have been excellent people to deal with. I’m telling you, they have been just really good people. It’s just been one of the easiest deals to put together I’ve ever been associated with.”

Smith said North Little Rock has offered no incentives for the project. 

“My commitment to them was that all of my staff was at their disposal and we would make sure that we’ve got everything processed through the planning process so that we don’t throw up any roadblocks that would cause them not to be in business by Christmas,” Smith said.

Smith said the city has been working on the project for about a month. It has met with the state Department of Transportation to look at whether the project site might require new infrastructure, such as a stoplight. The mayor said he’d heard about 50 trucks a day will deliver packages from the site, which sits near the former Pine Street Elementary School.

The Seattle-based company is nearing completion of a $70 million “receive” center in Memphis. The plant, set to open next year, will employ about 575 people. The Commercial Appeal reported last month that the company might be planning another Memphis location in a 400,000-SF warehouse in the southeast part of the city.

According to MWPVL International Inc., a global supply chain and logistics consulting firm, Amazon has more than 330 distribution centers of various types throughout the United States, with 58 more facilities in the works.

News of the North Little Rock project comes nearly a year after the city of Little Rock declined to participate in Amazon’s search for a second North American headquarters worth $5 billion. The process caused a bidding frenzy among major cities, but Little Rock turned its non-participation into a marketing campaign called “Love, Little Rock.”

As part of the campaign, Little Rock placed a full-page ad in The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, telling the company that while the city didn’t meet some of Amazon’s requirements for a headquarters, it would be a good fit for other businesses.

The ad was punctuated by an aerial banner that flew over Amazon’s Seattle headquarters that read, “Hey Amazon, it’s not you, it’s us.”

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