November 25, 2015

Say it ain’t so: Amazon comes to Brooklyn



Liberty View Industrial Plaza in Sunset Park. Photo via The Real Deal.

Thrilling news, Brooklynites: Amazon is planning to open its first distribution center in the borough.

The Real Deal’s Ariel Stulberg reported late last week that the online retail behemoth signed a seven-year lease (with a five-year renewal option) at the Liberty Industrial Plaza in Sunset Park. Amazon will occupy part of the massive complex on the waterfront, sandwiched between Green-Wood Cemetery and the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway snaking along beside it.

Stulberg’s requests for a comment from Salmar Properties, who own the eight-story, 1.1 million-square-foot industrial complex, weren’t immediately answered. The size of the space is not clear, but Amazon will be neighbors with Bed Bath & Beyond and Koppers Chocolate. (Melville House will be just a quick jaunt down the highway.)

In an article about the new space for Brownstoner, Hannah Frishberg underscored Amazon’s continuing strategy for bringing contracted-driver-speed delivery to more and more markets, noting that, “Amazon has been growing quickly and adding distribution centers across the country in the last two years…This center is likely to be focused on New York City deliveries—possibly even specifically for Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens.”

If this is the case, then it looks like offering one-day delivery for Amazon Prime members in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens still isn’t enough for the voracious retailer. The new center appears to be only part of a larger strategy to expand Amazon’s presence in NYC. According to Stulberg, Amazon leased space in a building on West 34th Street only last year, and in September, Amazon contractor LaserShip signed a lease at a warehouse in Ridgewood, Queens.

The news is already sparking discussion about what the center will mean for locals. While it will certainly bring more jobs to Sunset Park, accusations of exploitative working conditions (most recently, a major New York Times report on Amazon’s corporate environment, and a lawsuit alleging Amazon failed to properly compensate delivery drivers for Amazon Prime Now) have prompted concerns.

“We’d like to know what the local employment impact would be, especially owing to a number of different reports about unfair labor practices at Amazon facilities,” Ryan Chavez of local environmental justice group Uprose told Dennis Lynch of The Brooklyn Paper.

Welcome to Brooklyn!


Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.