What Amazon’s Polk County expansion means for Tampa Bay

The I-4 corridor is having a warehouse boom and it’s because retailers want to deliver even faster to you.
Amazon's new Aburndale fufillment center is hiring 500 workers. [Courtesy of Amazon]
Amazon's new Aburndale fufillment center is hiring 500 workers. [Courtesy of Amazon] [ Amazon ]
Published Sept. 9, 2020|Updated Sept. 9, 2020

Amazon is not only hiring hundreds of people for its massive Auburndale warehouse, but confirmed Wednesday it signed a lease for another 700,000-square-foot space in Lakeland.

Amazon’s 1-million-square-foot warehouse in Auburndale will handle deliveries for the region, while the new Lakeland property will be one of its last-mile delivery outposts to get purchases to Lakeland’s metro area faster. Amazon’s second Florida fulfillment center opened in Lakeland in 2014. Last year, Amazon moved its air cargo hub from Tampa International Airport to the airport in Lakeland.

“We want to make sure a fulfillment center and/or delivery station is placed as close to the customer as possible to ensure we can offer a great Prime service and fast shipping speeds to customers,” Amazon spokesman Owen Torres said in a statement.

Amazon isn’t the only one banking on Polk County. Developers are opening warehouses along the Interstate 4 corridor anticipating continued demand for the area because of the access it gives to Tampa Bay and Orlando. Lakeland is not only the mid-point, but the rural area has the room for a flood of warehouses, said Michelle Senner, an associate with real estate firm Colliers International who specializes in industrial leasing.

“Going over the research and where you need to be, every body wants on the I-4 corridor,” Senner said. “It’s hot, hot, hot.”

Senner said national logistics models are pushing companies toward the Lakeland area. She represents Red Rock Developments, which has built a 510,000-square-foot distribution center that’s for lease in Plant City, right on the Polk and Hillsborough county line. In that stretch of I-4, 8.6 million people are within a 100-mile radius, according to Colliers. Distribution centers in that area can reach 18 million people within a five-hour drive.

“There’s no shortage of construction,” Senner said. “We already seeing the shift in consumers leaning more toward ecommerce.”

The 500 people Amazon is hiring for its Auburndale warehouse at 676 C Fred Jones Boulevard will pick, pack and ship big items across the region from bulk cleaning supplies to sports equipment. The new Lakeland warehouse will be at 8100 State Road 33. It will open this year but Amazon didn’t specify a date. It will be one of more than 150 Amazon last-mile delivery warehouses in the country.

Amazon is also opening new warehouses in Temple Terrace and Pasco County.