Workers are busy erecting a hulking steel structure that will support a one-million square-foot Amazon Distribution Center at the 50-acre site of the long-shuttered U.S. Pipe & Foundry site that straddles Burlington Township and Burlington City.
"You have a site that was a brownfield site, and it produced steel pipes for well over 100 years before it closed. And now you will have a site that is not going to have soot and dust radiating from it and it will be a green site," Burlington Township Administrator Walt Corter said.
He said Matrix Development Group, which owned the site, told town officials Amazon expects to hire hundreds of people to work at the distribution center.
Ken Griffith, a partner at Matrix, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said the 1 million square-foot facility would create 600 full-time jobs for area residents, adding to the more than 16,000 the company employs across the state.
Amazon's selection of the Burlington site continues the company's plans for distribution warehouses in South Jersey. There are centers in Florence in Burlington County and Logan and Swedesboro in Gloucester County, according to data maintained by real estate tracker the CoStar Group. A warehouse in West Deptford, Gloucester County is expected to open next year.
Corter said Amazon began bringing in soil to prepare the Burlington site six months ago, but began building the infrastructure only a few weeks ago. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, he said.
The larger part of the distribution center will be located in Burlington Township. During the permitting process, township officials required Matrix to have Amazon restrict truck traffic to the routes along the river, away from the residential areas.
John Alexander, the spokesman for Burlington City, said the city held a job fair last month in an effort to secure construction jobs for city residents. The general contractor is R.C. Anderson and he has been in touch with city officials, Alexander said.
The city is also arranging training so city residents will qualify for jobs at the distribution center.
Alexander also said the former U.S. Pipe manufacturing plant is still standing on the portion of the site that's located in the city. It was shut down 10 years ago.
The badly deteriorating McNeal Mansion, once the home of Andrew McNeal, the industrialist who founded the company in 1866, is also tucked away in an overgrown part of the site. The fate of those buildings has not yet been determined, he said.