GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Plans to build an Amazon delivery facility in the township appear to have been shelved, dampening hopes of bringing the online retail giant to the area — but there is a chance another project at that same location is en route.
The township Planning Board announced in February that there was a proposal to build an Amazon “last mile” delivery station at Aloe Street and Genoa Avenue. Officials from the township and Atlantic County now say that proposal has been scrapped.
Ole Hansen & Sons, which owns the lot at Aloe and Genoa, confirmed Friday that the Amazon project was not moving forward. While Amazon did not explain its decision, Ole Hansen believes it to be part of the online retailer’s broader response to national economic conditions.
Ole Hansen is continuing to market the property and “several interested parties” have contacted the company about acquiring the land for future projects, a company official said.
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“Our 300 acres of industrial property in Galloway is an ideal site for development because it is in a wonderful location near major highways and the airport and has all utilities available to the property,” Ole Hansen & Sons CEO and President Jennifer Hansen said in an email Friday.
Bluewater Property Group, a development company contracted by Amazon for the project, did not respond to requests for comment.
Employees at a Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts are casting votes over the next two days in an attempt to form the supermarket chain’s first union. A union organizer says about 80 workers at the Hadley store are scheduled to vote Wednesday and Thursday. The workers are organizing under the name Trader Joe’s United, which if successful, would be an independent union, and not affiliated with a larger existing union. Trader Joe’s in a statement welcomes the vote, but said its compensation and benefits are already among the industry’s best.
Mayor Anthony Coppola said Amazon officials told him they were no longer pursuing the project. Those officials, he said, attributed the decision to Amazon’s strategy of scaling back development nationwide, rather than any particular concerns about the Galloway site.
Like Hansen, Coppola said the Aloe-and-Genoa lot is still drawing attention from large businesses, with two companies in particular interested in the site. While he declined to give their names, Coppola said one was another online retailer and the other was a company involved in the aviation industry. He said both companies had a national presence and did work globally. The two new companies, like Amazon, recognized the economic potential of the site.
“There’s a big sense of interest,” Coppola said. “Amazon gave that spot credibility.”
The township recently joined the Atlantic County Economic Alliance and is working with it to develop the Aloe-Genoa site. ACEA President Lauren Moore confirmed the Amazon project was not in the works, and that two other developers were now interested.
The Amazon delivery station would have encompassed 181,000 square feet and delivered to a location within a 45-minute-drive of the site. Amazon was set to hire between 150 and 200 full-time employees, along with additional part-time staff, who were set to receive a wage of at least $15 per hour and a benefits package. Contract drivers would have been required to operate the site, which would have created another 300 to 500 jobs.
It was set to operate 24 hours a day without in-store customer pickup.
Lululemon workers in Washington, D.C. are filing to hold a union election, joining workers at other major companies aiming to organize amid a wave of labor wins over the past year. The petition was filed this week by the Association of Concerted Educators. The company refers to its sales staff as educators. The group is seeking to unionize a store in the Georgetown neighborhood with roughly 30 workers. Among other demands, it is calling for more pay transparency and “equitable pay structures.” A Lululemon spokesperson says the company was notified of the petition and would “respect the process, and welcome being in continued conversations with our teams.”
Some residents at the Planning Board meeting in February opposed the plan. They were concerned the site would have drawn too much traffic and resulted in irritating lights and noise. Developers and township officials said they had worked to mitigate these issues in advance of the proposal.
The cancellation of the Galloway project is reflective of Amazon’s efforts to reduce its physical presence nationwide.
Amazon, based in Seattle, announced it would sublease its warehouses in several states, including New Jersey, as it tries to cut costs associated with running those properties.
In April, Amazon reported its first quarterly loss since 2015, dropping $3.84 billion. The decline was attributed to a decrease in online shopping, which surged at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when brick-and-mortar shopping was paralyzed by public-health shutdowns. Amid the growth in online retail over the past two years, Amazon had doubled both its operation size and workforce.
That loss was followed by a $2 billion quarterly loss reported Thursday.
Amazon has also struggled with increased shipping costs, a result of global supply-chain disruptions and high inflation.
High diesel prices are driving up the cost of everything, from groceries to Amazon orders and furniture. That’s because nearly everything that’s delivered, whether by truck, rail or ship, uses diesel fuel. Truckers are turning down hauling jobs in the states with the most expensive diesel. They’re choosing lighter loads and in some cases working longer hours to make up for the money lost on fuel. Farmers harvesting hay and planting corn with diesel-fired tractors are taking a hit of thousands of dollars per week. And many of these high costs are passed down to consumers.
Unprecedented unionization drives have also beset the online-retail and technology giant, with workers at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse voting to form the first Amazon labor union in the United States in April. Union leaders eventually earned praise from several Democratic politicians, including President Joe Biden.
New Jersey U.S. Reps. Donald Norcross, D-1st, and Frank Pallone, D-6th, criticized Amazon on Wednesday for what they said were high rates of workplace injuries at its New Jersey warehouses. They noted that an Amazon worker died at an Amazon facility in Carteret, Middlesex County, during the company’s Prime Day sale from July 12 to 13.
Moore said whatever new developments come to the Aloe-Genoa site would complement ongoing development efforts meant to strengthen and diversify the Atlantic County economy. Projects in and around the county’s aviation hub — consisting of Atlantic City International Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center — were things Moore highlighted as potential engines of economic growth for the area.
The Board of Commissioners of the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the airport, adopted a resolution July 20 authorizing an aeronautical development project on the 400-acre northwest quadrant of the airport property. Details of the project are to be negotiated by the SJTA executive director and Los Angeles developer Industrial Realty Group LLC. Moore said the project could create more than 1,000 jobs.
“One project simmers down, and another project simmers up,” Moore said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.