NORTH HAVEN — The concrete walls are up and the roof is under construction at the 855,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center off Route 5.
”It’s on schedule for May 2019,” said Richard LoPresti, chairman of the town’s Economic Development Commission. “They put the walls up, went in and put in a crane and put in the steel.”
The $250 million warehouse and fulfillment center is expected to open in mid-May next year on the site of the former Pratt & Whitney manufacturing plant.
LoPresti and First Selectman Michael Freda have checked on construction regularly, and Freda said he has been in touch with Amazon developer Hillwood Investment Properties.
General contractor R.C. Anderson could not be reached for comment.
The warehouse will feature mezzanines stocked with products and robots working alongside employees to pick, pack and ship goods throughout the region. Some of the other equipment includes conveyer belts, forklifts, and refrigeration units to service Whole Foods locations.
The town is also working with the state Department of Transportation, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on plans to repair and expand Valley Service Road to provide secondary access to the warehouse away from congested Route 5.
Freda expects the warehouse to have an initial workforce of 1,800 and eventually reach 3,000 employees.
Freda is also the co-chairman of the Regional Workforce Investment Board of the South Central Region. The board works closely with the Workforce Alliance to help Amazon screen, assess and match potential employees from the local labor pool.
“They take people who are unemployed, and the Workforce Alliance evaluates skill sets and offers training on improving those skill sets,” Freda said.
He expects that as the opening draws nearer, there will be more job fairs in either New Haven or Meriden to hire warehouse workers and managers.
The new Amazon warehouse has also been a catalyst for commercial development on Washington Avenue.
“Many of the small businesses are excited about the prospects of a large business like Amazon coming in,” Freda said.
In addition to the Amazon warehouse, BYK Chemical’s move to the town from Wallingford has sparked consumer confidence among retailers. One entrepreneur, Joseph Moruzzi, has breathed new life into the 60-year-old North Haven Shopping Plaza with improvements and new tenants.
Freda doesn’t expect much in the way of new apartment units because of the Amazon. ”I do expect to see a limited degree, maybe on the west side of Washington Avenue,” Freda said. “But there are no other plans at this point.”