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Amazon to widen Little Rock port site

15-acres will add to parking spaces by Noel Oman | July 22, 2021 at 6:36 a.m.
Artist rendering of Amazon's first fulfillment center in Arkansas that is currently under construction at the Port of Little Rock. (Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Amazon.com's new fulfillment center at the Port of Little Rock plans to add 185 parking spaces even though it hasn't opened yet and already has 1,779 slots.

The global technology and online retail giant or one of its representatives is expected to purchase a 15-acre plot next to the 80 acres it purchased on Zeuber Road as the site for the fulfillment center, its first in Arkansas.

Bryan Day, the top executive at the port, which owns the land, said the purchase price is the same for the original acreage, about $40,000 an acre, or a total $600,000.

The Little Rock Port Authority board of directors approved a resolution authorizing the transaction at its monthly meeting Wednesday. The transaction also must be approved by the Little Rock Board of Directors before it can be official.

The property runs along what used to be Fletcher Road and encompasses a small part of the 90 acres initially designated for a Czech gun-maker that had planned to build a $90 million manufacturing facility and its North American headquarters. The land reverted to the port last year after CZ-USA didn't meet a June 1 deadline to begin construction.

The Amazon fulfillment center is expected to open in mid-August, Day said. He is among a group of city officials and others who have toured the five-story facility. According to Greg Joslin, the port authority's outgoing board chairman, the fulfillment center totals 3.7 million square feet, up from 3.4 million the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette estimated last year.

Amazon has provided no price tag for the project, which is being built on county land where there is no requirement for a building permit. Similar-size facilities that Amazon has built that have employed at least 1,000 workers cost in the neighborhood of $100 million.

Amazon also is building a smaller $101 million fulfillment center on a 110-acre tract it is leasing on U.S. 71 in the Galloway area of North Little Rock. When completed, it will total 1.2 million square feet and employ more than 500 people. The center is expected to focus on bulky items.

Industry observers say the ramp-up of facilities in population centers such as Little Rock is in keeping with Amazon's strategy of quickly shipping products to its customers, in as little as a day for its Amazon Prime members, who pay an annual fee for one-day delivery and other services.

The company also has opened two smaller facilities for "last-mile" deliveries. Amazon's first Arkansas site, a tentlike structure in North Little Rock that opened in 2018, has since closed.

Print Headline: Amazon to widen port site

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