A look inside Amazon’s new Bessemer facility

Last week, 50 local officials and people involved with bringing the $325 million Amazon fulfillment center to Bessemer – along with Bessemer native and former professional athlete Bo Jackson – attended a hard hat tour to see construction progress.

The Birmingham Business Alliance’s Vice President of Economic Development Jeff Traywick, who worked on the project, was on the tour. Here is what he learned:

  • The facility is still on pace for a 2020 opening with an exact date to be determined by market conditions and sales.

  • The building itself is complete and Amazon is beginning to install equipment, but construction continues on the parking lot and landscaping.

  • The building’s design helps with a quick turnaround on filling orders, within 15 minutes from computer to conveyor belt.

  • There is 22 miles of conveyor belts – enough to reach from Bessemer to Birmingham.

  • The facility is four stories tall and the entire square footage is over 1.5 million square feet.

  • Gray Construction had to move 1.7 million cubic yards of dirt to prepare the site, had to pour 8,000 cubic yards of concrete and used 14,000 tons of steel to get the building to its current iteration.

  • 53 percent of items sold on Amazon are from third-party sellers and those products are available at fulfillment centers like the one in Bessemer. The facility will house not just Amazon products but also products from small companies that do business with Amazon.

“It’s impressive to see how quickly they’ve put the building up,” Traywick said. “The construction timeline has been very aggressive. The overall facility itself is quite impressive, how Amazon has been able to take modern e-commerce concepts and produce a facility so tailored to meeting the needs of the new retail world. They can take an order from anywhere and fulfill it, and in 15 minutes it is out the door mind-bogglingly fast. The process is very automated and very modern.”

To read more about Traywick’s work on the Amazon project and the project’s impact on Bessemer, read a recent series published by the Birmingham Business Journal: