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(Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)
Without fanfare, the new Amazon distribution facility at the site of the former Eastland Mall has opened.
“While there was no formal announcement sent out, I can confirm the site is now operational,” says Sam Fisher, public relations specialist for Amazon.
Blue-gray Amazon delivery vans can now be seen driving in and out of the site on East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard. Freshly painted parking spaces are starting to fill up with employee vehicles.
Not much has been shared officially from Amazon about the day-to-day operations at the facility, which first got the green light by township Commissioners back in December 2020.
It has been a long time coming for this opening, which was hampered not only by the pandemic but also major delays in the supply chain.
Obtaining everything from light poles to computer chips to chargers for Amazon’s electric delivery vans put this opening more than a year behind schedule.
Because of these delays, no one from North Versailles Twp. or Amazon publicized an official opening date but local Amazon employees knew two months ago.
Hiring events were expected to be held around North Versailles over the summer, but North Versailles Twp. Manager Joe Varhola said, “So many people were willing to relocate from other areas like Coraopolis and Sewickley, they didn’t need to have any hiring events.” Varhola has heard Amazon plans to have an open house event sometime in October.
Local resident Chuck Moore, who lives nearby on Maryland Avenue, is happy to the parking lot filling up. Moore said his brother is working at the North Versailles site.
Moore said his brother worked at the Amazon distribution site in Imperial and jumped at the chance to work closer to his home in North Huntingdon Twp.
“It’s now about a 20-minute drive as opposed to almost an hour,” said Moore.
The North Versailles distribution center was expected to create 500 new jobs, but it is unclear just how many of those jobs were filled through employee transfers.
“I’m sure they are not at full staff,” he said. Plus, the new site isn’t just a distribution center but contains a pickup area for customers as well.
“They have a special little area where people can go in, you give them the number of your package, they’ll pull it and bring it right to you right there,” Moore said. “You don’t have to wait for it.”
Moore said the impact of the Amazon opening on his day-to-day life has been minimal. During the planning stages, some residents were concerned about increased traffic and noise coming from the site. Moore was one of them because he is a contractor who has an early start each day.
“They made more noise when they were building that place then they have since they’ve been running,” he said. “They are quiet as a mouse.”
The mall closed in 2005. Moore is happy to see the derelict gone and the site returned to profitable use.
The biggest advantage to the Amazon opening, besides losing a huge eyesore, was impact on local property values, he said. “My house went from being worth $59,000 to being worth $130,000 as soon as they put that building in so, no complaints from me,” Moore said. “I can’t say a bad thing.”
Kristen Keleschenyi is a freelance writer in North Versailles Twp. and one of the hosts of the Kristen & Amber Show on Tube City Online Radio at 5 p.m. Saturdays, 9 p.m. Mondays and 4 p.m. Thursdays. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published September 02, 2023.