Few details available as Amazon seeks $4.5 million in taxpayer grants from Delaware

The News Journal | by Jeanne Kuang

The online retailer giant Amazon is asking the state for $4.5 million “to establish its operations in Wilmington, Delaware.”

The application for a state economic development grant comes as a Nevada-based distributions company that counts Amazon as a client plans a massive logistics warehouse at the former General Motors plant on Boxwood Road in Newport.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing unnamed sources, reported Wednesday that the Boxwood Road site will be occupied by Amazon.

“We have a policy of not commenting on our future roadmap and are not yet commenting on any specific operations plans in Wilmington,” Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty wrote in an email.

A regional executive at Dermody Properties, the distribution company, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.

There are roughly 3,000 full-time Amazon workers in Delaware – 2,600 of whom are based in a 1.2-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Middletown.

The taxpayer grant application will be reviewed by the state’s Council on Development Finance at a meeting Monday.

The meeting agenda provides no details on Amazon’s proposal. A spokesman for the Council on Development Finance said the application will not be made public until the meeting.

The grant application will be brought to the state with the help of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, which recommends recipients through an opaque process.

The recommendation all but guarantees a deal. The council, to date, has never turned down an application recommended by the privately-run economic development agency.

Dermody Properties bought the Boxwood Road site from Newport developer Harvey Hanna and Associates in November, with plans to build a warehouse totaling nearly 4 million square feet, surrounded by parking for tractor-trailers and cars.

In 2018, Dermody Properties was involved in bringing an Amazon distribution center to Logan Township, New Jersey – just across the Delaware River from Claymont.

Harvey Hanna purchased the site in 2017, nearly a decade after GM abandoned the auto plant and four years after Fisker Automotive failed to resurrect Delaware’s manufacturing there with an electric vehicle plant.

The developer shifted the site away from manufacturing, marketing it as an e-commerce center.

Demolition there turned controversial after a secretly recorded video of the work showed what appeared to be asbestos dust wafting over the site.

Last August, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control fined the demolition company, EcoServices LLC, and its foreman $20,000 each for violating emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants.

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