No activity spotted at two newly constructed Amazon plants in Omaha and Council Bluffs

The e-commerce giant says little after confirming that an Amazon complex in Papillion area will delay opening

By: - July 21, 2022 6:39 pm
Amazon facility at 72nd and State

The newly constructed Amazon facility near North 72nd and State Streets in Omaha appears inactive on July 21, 2022. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

OMAHA — There’s no sign of business activity at two other Omaha-area Amazon warehouse facilities that are newly constructed and span a combined 400,000 square feet — raising questions about their future.

The Nebraska Examiner visited the two sites Thursday in the wake of confirmation that a third in-the-pipeline Amazon center, in the Papillion area of Sarpy County, likely will open in 2024 rather than this year.

Papillion officials said the e-commerce giant informed them that “supply chain issues” were behind the delayed opening of the nearly completed 700,000-square-foot complex at Highways 370 and 50.

New Amazon in Papillion area
Amazon facility in Sarpy County is to delay opening until, likely, 2024. Interior work appears ongoing on July 21, 2022. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

Announced in late 2020, that facility is to feature robots working alongside up to 1,000 human employees.

‘They worked really hard’

Spokesman Andy DiOrio offered little detail this week when asked about the three metro area plants.

“We’re still excited to launch these new facilities in the Omaha market, though we’ve had to adjust our timing,” DiOrio, regional public relations manager, said in a statement. 

“We know the Papillion and Council Bluffs communities are looking forward to the opportunities we’ll be bringing to the area, and we’ll share new timing along with information about the great jobs, pay and comprehensive benefits we’ll be offering just as soon as we can.”

Amazon officials said previously that the Council Bluffs sorting center at South 24th Street and Veterans Memorial Highway will create about 500 jobs, once opened.

We’re still excited to launch these new facilities in the Omaha market, though we’ve had to adjust our timing

– Andy DiOrio, Amazon regional spokesman

Construction of that 270,000-square-foot Iowa facility appears complete with a finished parking lot and loading dock area. No one was in sight early Thursday afternoon when a reporter visited the grounds. The familiar Amazon arrow and signage was not visible on the blue and gray structure.

Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh said the center has been finished, as far as he knows, for a month or two. He said that the building does not appear to be staffed yet and that he has not been informed of its status or any potential delay.

“They worked really hard to get it done,” he said. 

Amazon facility
Newly constructed Amazon facility at 24th Street and Veterans Memorial Highway in Council Bluffs looks inactive on July 21, 2022. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

Paula Hazlewood, of Advance Southwest Iowa Corp., an affiliate of the Greater Omaha Chamber, said she had not been informed of a potential delay, either. 

At the Omaha Amazon site, near 72nd and State Streets, a 141,360-square-foot facility is newly constructed but currently appears inactive. It was one of the city’s biggest commercial building permits in 2021.

Carrie Murphy, spokeswoman for Mayor Jean Stothert, said the city has not issued a certificate of occupancy yet for the warehouse, and that would not happen until inspectors approve a final floor plan for equipment.

Thursday at the Papillion area plant, the parking lot contained multiple vehicles, mostly construction vans and cars with out-of-state license plates, indicating that interior finishings by contract workers was in progress.

That Sarpy County complex was touted as the biggest economic development coup for 2020 in the seven-county area covered by the Greater Omaha Chamber. A chamber analysis at the time said business leaders expect the operation to have a $203 million annual economic impact in the metro area.

News of the delayed opening came following media accounts that Amazon warehouses in numerous other cities across the nation have reported delays or cancellations to warehouse plans. Amazon reported a $3.8 billion net loss in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the $8.1 billion profit a year earlier.

DiOrio noted there is an active Amazon delivery station in Papillion that opened in 2018 and another near Eppley Airfield. “We see Omaha as a growing market,” he said.

Veta Jeffery, who recently assumed the helm at the Chamber, said her team understands there are many “moving parts along with world-wide issues that are impacting projects for companies like Amazon.”

She said the Chamber and other leaders will be ready to help Amazon when the company is ready to move forward.

“This project remains a crucial piece of our rapidly growing area and we will continue to facilitate its arrival,” Jeffery said.

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics. She has won awards from organizations including Great Plains Journalism, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) and the Associated Press. Cindy has been recognized by various nonprofits for community contributions and diversity efforts. She chairs the board that oversees the local university’s student newspaper.

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