Birmingham emerging as a logistics & distribution hub in 2021. See how

Birmingham, Amazon, Amazon Bessemer, jobs
Amazon is working on several new projects in Birmingham. Photo via Amazon on Facebook

With so many newsworthy things happening in 2020, it’s easy to forget that there were dozens of huge announcements for huge upcoming projects in the Birmingham area. We rounded up several big stories to keep an eye on in 2021.

Amazon Expands their Presence

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The groundbreaking of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer. Photo via Pat Byington

In 2019, Bham Now got an inside look at the new, 850,000 square-foot Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer. Little did we know, Amazon would be significantly expanding their foothold in Birmingham in the coming year.

1. “Project Magic”

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A rendering of “Project Magic”, an upcoming Amazon logistics center. Rendering via Birmingham City Council

First on the list is “Project Magic”. In May of 2020, Bham Now learned that the Birmingham City Council planned to redevelop the abandoned Century Plaza Mall into a 200,000 square-foot logistics center & distribution hub, bringing over 300 new jobs to the area.

Here’s what we know about the project—which will be home to a new Amazon last-mile delivery facility:

  • The facility will be a state-of-the-art class-A single-story building with concrete walls and glass features at the entry.
  • The facility will provide significant jobs with over 1,400 delivery drivers operating to and from the property and over 320 associates and managers working within the premises.
  • The proposed facility is designed for a last-mile delivery service. Packages arriving at this facility are prepackaged in cardboard boxes and labeled for shipping within local neighborhoods and areas surrounding the facility.

Starting in November crews began to demolish Century Plaza, once Alabama’s largest shopping mall, in preparation for the project.

2. “Project Church”

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A site plan for “Project Church,” the proposed facility that could be a new Amazon location. Photo via Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood

In October, we got wind of a mysterious development on a 47-acre property near the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer. Codenamed “Project Church”, the 278,800 square-foot facility is similar in size to existing Amazon Sortation Centers, where workers sort orders and consolidate them onto trucks for faster delivery. But we didn’t know for sure.

Then, in December, the Birmingham Business Journal reported that Atlanta-based Seefried Industrial Properties would be developing the facility as a Sortation Center for—you guessed it—Amazon.

3. “Project Repeat” — $40M Lowe’s Distribution Hub

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Lowe’s distribution center coming to Bessemer next Fall. Photo via Lowe’s 

In November, Bham Now reported that Lowe’s is next to join the growing logistics & distribution hub in Bessemer. Steve Salazar, manager of corporate communications at Lowe’s, confirmed that a 96-acre plot near the Carvana distribution center on Morgan Road will be the future home of a 1.2 million square-foot facility for Lowe’s.

The upcoming $40M facility will create up to 200 new jobs and serve as a distribution center for Lowe’s. Essentially, the facility will store shipments of appliances and other bulky items and replenish inventory at more than 112 stores throughout the Southeast.

4. “Project Fish” — $40.6M FedEx Ground Center

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Say hello to a faster delivery from FedEx Ground. Photo via FedEx on Facebook

In August, Bham Now reported that a new $40.6 million FedEx Ground facility was set to open in June 2021, bringing with it almost 300 new jobs to the area. Located on a 460-acre plot at 3801 Lakeshore Parkway, the development—known by codename “Project Fish”—was made possible through collaboration between the City of Bessemer, City of Birmingham and Jefferson County.

According to a Birmingham Business Alliance press release, the team hopes to complete the project by June 2021.

5. Buffalo Rock’s $75M expansion

Buffalo Rock
Buffalo Rock’s CEO announced the project on November 9, 2020. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

In November, Birmingham-based Buffalo Rock announced a massive, $75M expansion to their Birmingham presence. The Pepsi distributor, which has been in Birmingham for nearly 120 years, recently purchased over a million square feet of new warehouse and office space at two locations:

  • A 895,000 sq ft. warehouse located at 400 Industrial Drive, to serve as Buffalo Rock’s central distribution center.
  • A 120,000 sq. ft. office building located at 800 Lakeshore Drive, to serve as Buffalo Rock’s central distribution office.

In order to get the space up to par, Buffalo Rock will be outfitting its new digs with state-of-the-art technologies and renovations— meaning as many as 50 new jobs for Birmingham.

These Projects are Encouraging for Birmingham’s Continued Growth

Amazon Fulfillment Center Bessemer
A sorter at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Over the past year, Birmingham has significantly leaned into its industrial past. These key projects bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to The Magic City and the surrounding area. But don’t take my word for it:

“Despite the setbacks and loss of 2020, I am encouraged by the positive progress towards workforce development in District 7.  The planned $75 million expansion of Buffalo Rock Company, that is expected to create up to 50 new jobs, as well as the $40.6 million project that will bring almost 300 jobs to a new ground delivery distribution center for FedEx Ground, bring a lot of excitement and encouragement for the economic growth for the City and improvement of quality of life issues for our residents in 2021.”

Wardine Alexander, Birmingham City Councilor, District 7

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Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer with Bham Now | Originally from Tennessee, Nathan moved to The Magic City after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College. Nathan is passionate about recognizing Birmingham's history and is thrilled to learn more about the big things planned for The Magic City's future.

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