Amazon, the hugely successful online retailer, plans to open a delivery station next year at the old Knoxville Center Mall site.
The facility will create hundreds of full-time and part-time jobs, paying a minimum of $15 per hour and offering benefits packages from day one, officials said.
It’s expected to open in 2022.
The surprise announcement came after months of speculation about what would happen to the site.
“Knoxville Center Mall, at one time, was the epicenter of our community,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs was quoted as saying in the release. “Even though the mall is gone, it’s great to see this property being put to good use.
“This much flat land isn’t something we have a lot of in Knox County. We are thrilled to have the delivery center utilizing the space and excited about the hundreds of good-paying, well-benefited jobs that will be available.”
East Town Mall opened on the site in 1984 and immediately positioned itself as a lynchpin of the region’s retail economy.
Chain department stores like Sears and J.C. Penney may have been the mall’s anchors, but for an entire generation of young adults the movie theatre, arcade, and food court were adolescent landmarks.
In the 2000s, however, the massive indoor malls that had once been considered the future of retail in North America began to close. There were a lot of reasons, but the biggest culprits by far were online retailers like Amazon.
East Town, now renamed Knoxville Center Mall, limped on, but it developed a reputation as both unsafe and less glamorous than shopping venues in West Knoxville. Only a few scattered shops and a couple of restaurants were still operating when it finally closed its doors last year.
Almost immediately speculation about the site focused on a possible Amazon facility.
“Their decision to invest here will create hundreds of new jobs,” said Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon. “Even better, Amazon will bring back into reuse a large vacant site, a closed mall, that could have remained empty for decades to come.”
“Tennessee is a great place to do business and we are excited to continue to invest in the state with the new delivery station in Knoxville, providing efficient delivery for customers, and creating hundreds of job opportunities for the talented workforce in the region,” said Amazon spokesman Courtney Johnson Norman.
Delivery stations power the last mile of Amazon’s order fulfillment process the release said. Packages are transported to delivery stations from Amazon fulfillment and sortation centers, and then loaded into vehicles for delivery to customers, according to Norman. There are currently four delivery stations in Tennessee and Amazon currently has more than 250 delivery stations in the U.S.
“Each new delivery station, including this station in Knoxville, is now designed to meet the needs of our electric delivery vehicles,” Norman stated. “Ranging from the physical layout to electrical design, we are optimizing these spaces to offer flexibility and scale as we move closer toward putting 10,000 electric delivery vehicles on the road in 2022.”