Amazon to build fulfillment centre in Windsor

Dave Waddell/The Windsor Star

The e-commerce giant Amazon has purchased land in Windsor to build its first fulfilment centre in the area.

According to RealTrack Inc., which publishes information on Ontario commercial real estate transactions of $500,000 and over, the Seattle-based firm purchased 27.24 acres (11 hectares) in the Grand Central Business Park for $11,836,487 this month.

The business park is a shovel-ready site owned by Rosati Construction. 

Amazon officials didn’t respond to a request for a comment on the Windsor project Friday. Rosati officials also declined to comment citing a non-disclosure agreement with Amazon.

Sources have told the Star the Amazon warehouse is expected to be about 200,000 square feet and employ approximately 300 people. Construction on the project is scheduled to get underway in May. 

Amazon’s facility will be located on the western end of the business park close to Central Avenue. It abuts the CNR and CPR railyard that runs parallel to E.C. Row Expressway.

The site was formerly the location for Chrysler’s Pilette Road Truck Assembly Plant, which was closed in 2003 and later demolished.

With Amazon currently building a large distribution centre in the London area, the Windsor site is expected to focus more on servicing the local region.

“This is a validation that the municipality and the region are on a growth trajectory,” Invest WindsorEssex CEO Stephen MacKenzie said. “They don’t put these centres in areas that are declining.

“They locate these in specific-sized markets based on geography, proximity to growing markets and larger population centres. It’s excellent news for a global company to invest here and not serve the area from somewhere else.”

MacKenzie added Amazon’s decision on coming to Windsor was made before the community was able to land the new LG Energy Solutions/Stellantis battery plant.

“This is fantastic news for Windsor Essex,” said Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Rakesh Naidu.

“This region has strong assets when it comes to fulfiling the needs of the warehouse and transportation sectors. It’s a great first step for Amazon.

“Once they’re here and see the opportunities this region provides, it will lead to further expansion.”

Naidu said Amazon’s investment also helps with the goal of diversifying the local economy and offering different types of employment opportunities.

“We don’t want an economy that is focused on a single sector no matter how good that sector may be,” Naidu said.

“Transportation and warehousing are sectors we’re seeing a definite increase in demand. This will provide an opportunity for employment for those not in manufacturing or skilled trades.

“It’ll help diversify the economy, employ young people and different types of workers with different skills.”

With the area’s logistics industry already well developed in meeting the auto industry’s just-in-time demands and the logistics and IT/computer science programs being taught at area post-secondary institutions, Naidu sees opportunities for Amazon to collaborate locally and have access to talent.

“Hopefully this is the beginning of more investment and bigger opportunities here,” Naidu said. “It’ll provide another place for those logistics graduates to go.

“As they dip their toe in the water here, I think the company will find it has more advantages here than just for a fulfilment centre.”