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Amazon plans giant warehouse in Melville to make 'last-mile' deliveries

The adjacent buildings that Amazon is seeking to

The adjacent buildings that Amazon is seeking to use as warehouse space used to be occupied by Rubie's Costume Co. Credit: Brad Penner

Amazon wants to open a giant warehouse in Melville to make "last-mile" deliveries to customers, renting two buildings once used by Rubie's Costume Co., documents show.

The 309,500-square-foot distribution center would be the retailer’s eighth planned for Long Island and the largest so far.

"Amazon will unload bulk shipments of goods for delivery, sort the goods and redistribute the goods onto smaller vans for local deliveries straight to its customers’ doors," the company’s attorney Daniel Patrick wrote in a Feb. 5 letter seeking approval for the project from the Town of Huntington. Newsday obtained the letter and other documents from the town’s planning board under the state Freedom of Information law.

The retailer would make modest improvements to 1770 Walt Whitman Rd. and the adjacent 540 Broad Hollow Rd. The upgrades include installation of a 26,100-square-foot canopy under which delivery vans would be loaded with packages, Patrick wrote.

The documents don’t specify the cost of upgrading the Melville buildings or the number of people who would work there.

However, Amazon said it would hire 150 warehouse workers for a smaller proposed warehouse in Syosset. Managers there would earn $60,000 per year and package handlers would earn at least $15 per hour, according to the retailer's application for tax breaks from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.

In addition, several hundred jobs would be created by the independent transportation companies whose van drivers would pick up the packages from the Melville warehouse for delivery.

Amazon hasn’t contacted the Suffolk County IDA about the Melville project, according to the agency’s executive director Anthony J. Catapano.

A spokeswoman for the retailer declined to discuss its plans on Wednesday, saying, "We weigh a variety of factors when deciding where to develop future sites to best serve customers. However, we have a policy of not commenting on our future roadmap," she said.

Huntington Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci said, "We are excited at the prospect of being considered by Amazon to bring new jobs" to the town. "Our Planning Department has started the site-plan review process, including reaching out to the community and other interested parties for their input on the [Amazon] application," he said.

The 21-acre parcel is already zoned for warehousing, which has been taking place there since 1974. Most recently, both Melville buildings were used by Rubie’s Costume Co. before it filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors to reorganize last year.

Amazon plans to store dozens of delivery vans overnight inside the buildings, a marked change from its planned warehouses in Carle Place, Holbrook, Syosset and Westhampton Beach. However, the company could seek Huntington Town’s permission to park the vans outside overnight in the future, its attorney said.

Amazon already operates two warehouses in Bethpage and one in the Shirley-East Yaphank area. These facilities aren’t part of the lawsuit filed this month by state Attorney General Letitia James alleging failure to protect employees from the coronavirus.

James said her investigation of two Amazon warehouses on Staten Island and in Queens found violations of state health and safety regulations for cleaning and disinfection, contact tracing and allowing employees to take precautions to protect themselves from the risk of infection.

Amazon defended its safety practices during the pandemic, saying it had hired experts for guidance. "We don't believe the attorney general's filing presents an accurate picture of Amazon’s industry-leading response to the pandemic," company spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.

AMAZON'S LAST-MILE FACILITIES ON LI

The warehouses are the last stop before an order reaches a customer's doorstep.

OPEN

•156,000 square feet in Bethpage

•140,000 square feet in Bethpage

•103,000 square feet in Shirley-East Yaphank

PLANNED

•309,500 square feet in Melville

•204,000 square feet in Syosset

•147,900 square feet in Holbrook

•91,000 square feet in Westhampton Beach

•55,750 square feet in Carle Place

SOURCES: Amazon; Town of Huntington; Town of Islip; Nassau County IDA; Suffolk County IDA; Newsday research

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