Amazon’s Philadelphia-area leasing spree continues

Amazon's Philadelphia-area leasing spree continues Inc. has leased a 283,000-square-foot building in Philadelphia as part of its web of last-mile distribution centers around the region.

The company has signed a deal to occupy 2400 Weccacoe Ave. in South Philadelphia, according to sources. The building had once been occupied Hyundai Rotem, a South Korean company that made train cars for SEPTA.

The lease adds to Seattle-based Amazon’s sites it has been leasing over the last year across the region as it builds a last-mile distribution network. It also highlights how old industrial site, obsolete office buildings and manufacturing structures are finding new life in the age of ecommerce.

In the case of 2400 Weccacoe, the building had been used to build rail cars for SEPTA and other transit agencies. Prior to that, Unique Industries, a manufacturer of party supplies, used the structure for its operations.

In another example, Atlanta-based Ardent Cos. bought an old trolley car shed at 2501-2561 N. 15th St. in Philadelphia and Novaya Foxfield Industrial purchased a shuttered chemical plant on 29 acres at 900 River Road in Upper Merion to develop into a last-mile distribution centers.

An affiliate of Wharton Equity Partners along with Walton Street Capital Partners acquired 2400 Weccacoe for $16.75 million last September, according to property records. It sits on 13.5 acres and was vacant at the time the Wharton partnership bought it. Two acres adjacent to the site were later bought to provide more space for parking.

Wharton launched a $10 million redevelopment of the building that included tearing out the rail beds, installing a new roof, leveling interior floors, and upgrading loading docks among other upgrades. The renovations were part of the real estate company’s plans to seize on market forces catering to the growth of online retail. The property has access to Interstates 95 and 76, Philadelphia International Airport, PhilaPort and the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. It is also adjacent to Center City.

A representative from Wharton declined comment. Amazon did not return a request for comment.

Wharton rebranded 2400 Weccacoe as SoPhi Logistics Center and sought to attract tenants who want a location for last-mile deliveries. UPS has for years operated a distribution center adjacent to the property.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMAZN) over the last few years has added locations in King of Prussia, Lansdale, Langhorne and near the Philadelphia International Airport. In addition, Amazon leased earlier this year 1250 Forest Parkway in West Deptford, N.J. That 496,000-square-foot building had been a former distribution center for Nine West. The company is also in negotiations to lease 235,240 square feet in Bensalem.

Amazon expects to open a new 820,000-square-foot distribution center in Wilmington, Delaware, in time for the holiday shopping season. The company expects to hire 1,000 new workers to staff the built-to-suit development planned for a former General Motors plant on Boxwood Road.

The company has been leasing locations closer to dense population centers as it continues to expand its popular two-day Prime shipping, but also same-day delivery.

Amazon distribution centers often employ several hundred, if not several thousand people.

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