The future site of Amazon’s distribution center is already making money for Garner

Hillwood, the Dallas-based real estate developer that is building a massive distribution center in Garner for Amazon, paid more than $3 million for the former ConAgra site on Jones Sausage Road.

A limited liability company called 4851 JS Project — which is registered under Hillwood’s Texas address — bought the 88-acre site from the Garner Economic Development Corp. for $3,112,500 on Aug. 8, according to Wake County records. That was two days before the town announced that Amazon would build a distribution center on the site. 

The project, located around 12 miles southeast of downtown Raleigh, will be a four-story, 2.6-million-square-foot building and it will employ up to 1,500 people, town officials said at a press conference last week.

Amazon has not said what the average salary of the workers would be at the distribution center and town officials said only that the pay would be “market-based” and a mix of blue collar and salaried positions. They also noted that the total payroll will be $45 million annually.

The jobs are all expected to be full-time, Joe Stallings, economic development director for the town, said in an email. Amazon is currently advertising warehouse fulfillment associate jobs in Durham as starting at $10.50 an hour.

Amazon plans to invest $200 million in the site, according to the town, and site work has already started on the property at 4851 Jones Sausage Road. The News & Observer reported in July that Hillwood officials had told the Garner Town Council that they wanted the project completed in the fall of 2019.

The Garner distribution facility is going on the site of the old ConAgra Slim Jim plant, which has stood empty since 2011. ConAgra closed the plant and moved production to Ohio two years after an explosion tore through the plant, killing four workers and injuring dozens of others.

When it left, the company donated the plant, the surrounding land and $500,000 to the town so that it could market the site to prospective tenants.

The property is designated as a “brownfield” by the state and ConAgra has nearly completed remediating the property of some of the contaminants that spilled there, Bruce Nicholson, the brownfields program manager at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, told The News & Observer last week.

Incentives given

To help land the distribution center, the town of Garner promised to contribute $600,000 and the North Carolina Department of Transportation $4.5 million to make significant improvements to Jones Sausage Road to accommodate the added traffic, the town said at the announcement.

Additionally Wake County approved up to a $300,000 reimbursement for water and sewer infrastructure, said Chris Dillon, assistant county manager for Wake County.

And since 2011, the year the Garner Economic Development Corp. took over the property as part of ConAgra’s donation of the land, Wake County has exempted $172,000 of property taxes while the land was under the control of the town, Dillon said.

Amazon is also currently planning to build a distribution center near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. That facility, scheduled to be completed in late 2019, will also employ 1,500 people, the Charlotte Observer reported.

However, Charlotte has agreed to give Amazon $13.7 million in incentives to put the project there, according to The Observer.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer