Amazon confirms it’s moving into Shelby Township

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 14, 2017

At 12:05 a.m. Sept. 14 — 9:05 p.m. on the West Coast Sept. 13 — Amazon announced that it will build a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center at 23 Mile and Mound roads.

Inventory at the fulfillment center, slated to open in 2018, will include household decor, sporting equipment and gardening tools.

The project includes a proposed $90 million investment and 1,000 full-time jobs with benefits, according to the retailer. Local officials praised the partnerships that occurred at the township, county and state levels to bring the project to fruition.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the project first came across his desk in December. John Paul Rea, director of the Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Department, said the property suggestion came through his department.

“(They wanted to know) what sites we knew of that would be feasible for building out. We gave them a short list, and this one rose to the top,” Rea said. “It’s one of the largest development initiatives our department has ever been involved in, and also one of the largest environmental remediations in the county’s history.”

Rea termed the undertaking a “showcase project” that he hoped would illustrate the county’s ability to facilitate large-scale projects and integrate expedited resources.

Hillwood Enterprises, a development company based out of Illinois, plans to remediate the contaminated property using tax increment financing for eligible reimbursement to the tune of approximately $9.1 million over a 20-year capture period.

Among the remediation efforts, Hillwood Enterprises proposes to demolish the existing structures at the site, clean up contaminated soils, manage and prevent the further spread of contaminated soils, and “ultimately return a highly unproductive property back to (the) community as an economic and environmental asset,” according to the brownfield plan prepared by the Macomb County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Bonner Advisory Group.

The property previously was used for industrial purposes, including automobile manufacturing, from 1951 to 2009 by Ford Motor Co., Visteon Corp. and Automotive Components Holdings LLC, according to the brownfield plan.

Shelby Township Planner Glenn Wynn said the developer plans to redevelop 85 acres on the approximately 200-acre property located at 50500 Mound Road.

Hackel said the Macomb County Department of Roads, in order to better suit the distribution center’s needs, is contributing approximately $500,000 from its transportation fund to make road repairs before the building’s groundbreaking.

“They’re talking about next year, to be in and operational before the holiday season — I’m going to assume the Thanksgiving/Christmas time,” Hackel said. “From what I’ve already experienced from this corporation, they’ll meet (their goal).”

In choosing Shelby Township, he said, Amazon did not just “look at a map and throw a dart out there.”

“It’s not just the property, but they looked at the workforce, education, entertainment, quality of life and housing opportunities and realized this is an area that best suits their needs, and what they have to offer suits our needs,” he said. “We’re pretty excited.”

Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said redeveloping the large parcel at 23 Mile and Mound roads has for many years been one of the community’s top goals.

“Prior to Amazon coming in, our best hope was outdoor storage. Thanks to Amazon, we’re getting a high-tech, innovative distribution center with 1,000 new jobs — no offense to our friends in outdoor storage,” Stathakis said. “It’s exciting to welcome what is the world’s No. 1 commerce operation to our township.”

He credited the teamwork between the township, the county, the state and Amazon for creating and approving the brownfield redevelopment plan and securing the company’s commitment.

Julie Misich, an assistant planner with the township, said the parcel is divided into two or three areas, and a temporary storage company is currently utilizing the southern portion. She said she anticipated that it would relocate with Amazon coming in.

“Michigan has been a great place to do business for Amazon, and we look forward to adding a new fulfillment center to better serve our customers in the region,” said Sanjay Shah, Amazon’s vice president of North American operations, in a statement. “The state has been a source of exceptional talent for Amazon, and we’re proud to be creating great jobs with benefits for Michiganders.”

Since 2016, Amazon has announced multiple facilities in Michigan — including three fulfillment centers and one sortation center in Livonia, Romulus, Brownstown Township and Shelby Township, as well as a corporate office in Detroit — bringing with them more than 3,500 jobs, according to a release.

Shevaun Brown, Amazon’s regional operations PR manager, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.