New Amazon warehouse hints at one-hour ‘Prime Now’ deliveries in Boston

An Amazon worker delivers groceries for the AmazonFresh service in New York. Amazon has been expanding its grocery delivery services.
An Amazon worker delivers groceries for the AmazonFresh service in New York. Amazon has been expanding its grocery delivery services. has leased new warehouse space on the outskirts of Boston, and a real-estate broker who worked on the deal says Amazon hopes to use it for one-hour deliveries in the Boston area.

Amazon declined to comment on its plans for the warehouse. But the details behind its real-estate deal suggest the company may use the site to bring its Prime Now one-hour delivery service to the region in the near future.

County real estate records show that Amazon recently leased a 96,600-square-foot warehouse in a section of Everett that hosts grocery and food distributors and is about five miles from downtown Boston.

The space is part of a former distribution center for US Foods, which ships food and other supplies to restaurants. Today, the warehouse is owned by the Craft Brewers Guild, a regional beer distributor, which occupies more than half of the 255,550-square-foot facility.

The ability to deliver goods to Boston within an hour was the main reason Amazon wanted to lease the space, said Phil Burgess, president of Burgess Properties, which represented the Brewers Guild in the Amazon deal.

“Location, location, location is the old adage in real estate,” Burgess said. “That was never more apropos than now.”

Amazon already offers quick delivery of many products, especially for members of Amazon Prime, the company’s $99-per-year subscription service. But in the past year, the company has rolled out an even faster delivery service called Prime Now, which offers Prime members free two-hour deliveries of common household and grocery items and one-hour delivery for an extra $7.99 per delivery.

Prime Now is currently available in 11 cities, including New York, Miami, Chicago, and Amazon’s hometown of Seattle. Amazon offers deliveries from local retailers in New York and Portland, Ore., and from local restaurants in Seattle. Amazon Prime Now also recently began delivering alcohol in Seattle.

Amazon plans to add 20,000- to 30,000-square-foot freezers and coolers to its portion of the Everett facility, Burgess said, indicating it plans to ship perishable items from the warehouse. Amazon also is seeking senior produce specialists in Everett, saying the jobs will ensure that warehouse “shelves are stocked with an appropriate amount of high-quality produce to meet customer demand.”

Other jobs being advertised in Everett include warehouse work, IT support, and managers.

“The way the facility will be set up, small delivery vans will be able to drive in one end of the building and right out the other end of the building, and off to the races,” Burgess said. “It’ll be fascinating what kind of products people are going to want and need in an hour.”

The area surrounding Amazon’s new Everett warehouse is an important nexus of grocery and food distribution for the surrounding region. The neighborhood is dominated by the New England Produce Center, a large warehouse that serves as the base of operations for about 40 produce distributors who serve retailers around the region.

“It’s the entirety of the produce market,” Burgess said. “It’s basically where every apple and banana that you’re going to see in a store in New England comes through.”

Also nearby are Paul W. Marks Co., which distributes cheese, eggs, butter, cookies, and other specialty foods across New England, and Whole Foods Market’s regional kitchen, which supplies prepared foods and other goods for more than 40 stores in the Northeast.

Amazon’s expanding ambitions in groceries and ultrafast local deliveries comes as other tech companies, including Google and Instacart, have begun offering similar services.

Amazon has been testing the broader grocery-delivery market for years. It began offering a grocery delivery service called AmazonFresh in Seattle in 2007, and started expanding it to other cities in 2013. It began offering Prime Now’s one-hour deliveries in New York in late 2014, and has steadily expanded the roster of cities since then.

“I think it’s going be a learning experience,” said Peter A. D’Arrigo Jr., president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of Massachusetts, a produce distributor. “I’m glad they’re learning on their dime, not mine.”

The new Everett facility adds to Amazon’s considerable Massachusetts footprint. The company already has a shipping warehouse in Stoughton and plans to open another distribution center in the Fall River area next year. Those two facilities earned the company local and state tax breaks worth more than $18 million.

The company’s Massachusetts operations also include an engineering office in Cambridge’s Kendall Square and Amazon Robotics of North Reading, formerly known as Kiva Systems, which Amazon purchased for $775 million in 2012.