Amazon is planning to open a 140,000-square-foot distribution center on the Allied Metal property at 1260 N. Kostner Ave. in West Humboldt Park. 

This publication first received tips about the plans two weeks ago. Amazon declined to share any details beyond confirming the rumors in a statement that they emailed Austin Weekly News last week.n 

According to a June 22 report in Crain’s Chicago Business, the company paid $30 million to buy the lot at the northeast end of Allied Metal’s campus, with the goal of opening the facility by the end of 2022. 

While Amazon promises to bring a few hundred jobs to the community, the company has already prompted some pushback over concerns about the impact of potential truck traffic on the residential blocks further east. 

Residents are also worried about the lack of outreach from Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), whose ward includes the warehouse site and the residential blocks. 

The distribution center will be one of nine hubs Amazon is setting up in Chicago to speed up delivery. The company reportedly increased the pay for new hires at those centers to at least $16 per hour and is implementing sign-on bonuses of up to $1,000. 

Allied Metal produces aluminum and zinc alloys and recycles scrap metal. The company has several buildings in the area. The Amazon distribution center would be located on the southeastern portion of that area. 

The company didn’t elaborate on how many jobs it would create, stating only that it would be “a few hundred.” In a prepared statement to the media, Mitts stated that the company would create “nearly 500 full- and part-time jobs.” 

Mitts added that the jobs Amazon creates will benefit the community as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic further decimated jobs and prospects for disadvantaged, yet enterprising adults and young people alike,” Mitts stated. “Simply put, if everyone had better opportunities to earn an income, they’d be less likely to participate in criminal activities, gangs and exhibit negative behavior.”

She said that Amazon isn’t seeking any city funding and “is deeply committed to social equity, [including minority- and woman-owned firms in] development and construction, and hiring opportunities.” 

The distribution center would be located south of the former Pile National Co. electric equipment manufacturer campus at 1334 N. Kostner Ave., which is being redeveloped by West Humboldt Park-based IBT Group into a “creative office campus” known as The Terminal. The company didn’t respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

West Humboldt Park Development Council spokesperson Ray King said that he is personally familiar with the area and that an Amazon distribution center could be a boon for the community if Amazon hires from the community.

“[West Humboldt Park], especially between Kostner [Avenue] and Pulaski [Road], needs a boost, it needs economic development,” King said. “[Amazon] doesn’t need to outsource employment. I would tell them to make sure you take care of the natives first.” 

Maura Madden sits on the board of Nobel Neighbors, a West Humboldt Park community organization, and lives near the southeast corner of the site. She said that she first heard about the deal in mid-April from a member of a “Chicago PD” film crew when the show was filming near her block. 

“He said, ‘We love filming there, it’s a great location, but because Amazon is there, we can’t do it anymore,’” Madden recalled. “And he said Amazon is building a warehouse here.” 

Since the deal wasn’t reported in the news, she figured that the crew member might have been wrong. Madden didn’t give it much thought until May 26, when she took a tour of The Terminal. She said that IBT President Gary Pachucki mentioned that the company was working with Amazon on sharing some parking.  

Madden said that she was dismayed that she didn’t hear anything about the project ahead of time from Mitts or from any city department. Madden said that, while she appreciated the company bringing jobs to West Humboldt Park, she was worried about the impact on residents like her.  

“I think it’s going to impact traffic in a negative way,” she said. “I would like it if [Mitts] would have a meeting, so we could find out what’s going there, where the entrance is, where the trucks are going to be.”

Mitts’ spokesperson A.L. Smith confirmed that the alderwoman didn’t hold any meetings about the project, but that she will hold the meetings in the future. Smith said on June 24 that the meetings hadn’t been scheduled yet.

Madden also argued that there are other uses that would benefit the community more. 

“There’s nowhere where you can walk for groceries, and there’s no good grocery store within 10 to 16 minutes of driving,” she said.

While Madden acknowledged that there is an Aldi location nearby, at 1440 N. Kostner Ave., she felt that the community would benefit from another grocery store that would have more fresh produce.

“I don’t know if Amazon is a good fit,” she said. “I’m happy that money is coming into the area, but we need other stuff beyond just an Amazon warehouse.”

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...