Friday, December 18, 2020

[UPDATE] Amazon Opening New Warehouse Facility In "Incredible" Duluth Location Inc. has leased a well-known suburban commercial space for a new "final mile" warehouse.  The ecommerce giant will soon open their new warehouse in the nearly 200,000 square foot facility at 4000 Venture Drive, not far from Gwinnett Place Mall and adjacent to Costco in Duluth.  The sprawling building, originally constructed as an Incredible Universe store, opened in 1996 and closed in 1997.  Over the past two decades, the space has been home to several other businesses including PGA Tour Superstore, Haverty's Furniture Outlet and Dave & Buster's.  Over time, though, those businesses have either consolidated operations, moved, or as the Haverty's Outlet did last December, closed altogether.  

With incredible visibility off I-85, there was talk following Dave & Buster's March 2019 closure, that IKEA might have interest in the 16 acre parcel.  A deal to put the furniture retailer there never materialized and even a confirmed IKEA planned for Marietta was later abandoned.  

The building, which already includes a truckyard and eight truck bays, was rezoned earlier this year from C-2 (General Business District) to M-1 (Light Industrial District), to accommodate Amazon.  [The rezoning approval at the time was ambiguous, without it being publicly known then who would occupy the building.  The coming occupant was only recently revealed when signage went was erected.]

Amazon already operates several large format warehouses in Georgia including those in Lithia Springs, Braselton, Jefferson, East Point, Smyrna, and Newnan, but the Duluth location will be  about one fourth the size of standard warehouses.  The expansion into smaller, suburban warehouses is part of a significant effort by the ecommerce retailer to deliver packages in one day - or the same day - rather than two days - to its valued  Prime members.  According to a September report by Bloomberg, Amazon is planning to open at least 1,000 "final mile" warehouses in suburban neighborhoods around the country.  The expansion into even faster delivery is seen as a defensive move by Amazon as it fends off renewed competition from legacy brick & mortar retailers such as Walmart and Target, both of whom have launched their own one day/same day delivery services, Walmart Plus and Shipt, respectively.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to record ecommerce sales with many shoppers turning to Amazon and their assorted services for basics, gifts, and everything in between. Inc. registered its most profitable quarter ever in the three months ended September 30 with revenue from North America increasing 39.3% year over year.  Overall revenue increased 37.4% to a record $96.15 billion. Its net income also set a quarterly record at $6.33 billion, an increase of 196.7% over the third quarter of 2019.  

Despite the visibility of the Amazon facility, its lease and imminent opening has received little attention.  Instead, the former Fry's Electronics in an outparcel of Gwinnett Place Mall has been the focus of several articles and even a press release from Governor Brian Kemp.  In a February announcement, Kemp confirmed that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Sonic Automotive Inc. will locate a regional headquarters and dealership for EchoPark Automotive on twelve acres including the former Fry's.  According to Kemp's announcement, the dealership, which is slated to open in early 2021, represents a $20 million investment by EchoPark and will lead to the creation of 130 jobs.  

Gwinnett County officials announced Wednesday their intention to purchase Gwinnett Place Mall.  The county will pay Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC $23 million for the "dead mall" that the investment firm has owned and done basically nothing with since their 2013 acquisition of the mall out out of foreclosure from original owner Simon Property Group.  The county has not yet revealed their plans for the mall property.  

The conversions of the Incredible Universe building to Amazon warehouse and the former Fry's to automotive, while novel, are not the first creative re-purposing of buildings in the Gwinnett Place Mall area.  

A onetime Hi-Fi Buys on West Liddell Road is now home to Fresh Start Church and Jag Fitness while a former Super Target is now partially Furniture Mart but also largely vacant.  A large freestanding former location of The Sport Shoe is now home to So Good Beauty & Bridal.  The former Circuit City on Venture Drive is now a Studio Movie Grill, while the former Harry's Farmers Market on Satellite Boulevard is now the Aviation Institute of Maintenance. 

Did you ever shop at Incredible Universe?  What do you think Gwinnett County should do with Gwinnett Place Mall?  Are you pleased to see Amazon opening another facility to make shipping faster?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

That area is likely dead as a retail outlet for consumers but it has a lot of potential as distribution points with it's interstate access. It isn't a "bad" area at all but will never be what it was before. Hopefully developers and planners can find some good uses for the space.

Alex said...

This sucks for the people and business nearby. I live close to the Smyrna warehouse on Highlands Parkway and their delivery vans drive recklessly, way above the speed limit, while adding to the congestion.

Anonymous said...

Shit load of traffic on that congested road, that’ll be fun fun fun. All those big trucks trying to get in and out of there.

vespajet said...

I think most places would rather have an Amazon warehouse than a second or third tier retailer or a vacant building. In so many parts of Metro Atlanta there are shopping centers with vacant big box spaces that could be repurposed into Amazon "final mile" warehouses. It might also be a good idea for Amazon to look at vacant grocery store spaces for Amazon Fresh distribution facilities. In many cases, coolers, freezers as well as refrigerated and frozen cases on the retail floor were left in place.

Anonymous said...

Amazon the most evil company with the most evil owner!

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