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Amazon center in Lancaster will focus on sorting packages

A new Amazon distribution center planned for a former supermarket warehouse in Lancaster will focus on sorting packages to speed up delivery times, the global online retailer said Monday.

The new distribution center will be the company's second in New York State and will bring several hundred new jobs to the area after it opens later this year, Amazon confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based firm said the company will launch what it calls a "sortation center" in the vacant warehouse at 4201 Walden Ave. It already has a similar "Prime Now" hub in Manhattan.

That's slightly different from a "fulfillment center," where employees select items from the inventory to fill customer orders, pack them and ship them out, said spokeswoman Lauren Lynch.

By comparison, employees at a "sortation" center use ZIP codes to further sort the customer packages that are sent from fulfillment centers in order to speed up regular delivery, Lynch said. These specialized facilities for smaller geographic areas also allow for packages to arrive at customer homes on Sundays, and provide for later cutoff times for purchases.

Lynch said Amazon considers many factors in deciding where to place new fulfillment or sortation centers, but "most importantly, we want to make sure our facilities are placed as close to the customer as possible" for fast shipping.

"We also look at the workforce, and we've found great talent in abundance in New York state," she added. "We look forward to creating hundreds of jobs to help us better serve customers."

She did not cite how much the company would spend on the project, nor did she specify when the new facility would open, although she added that "we expect it to move quickly." Already, the company has posted job openings online.

The 525,000-square-foot warehouse on 32.26 acres, which had previously been occupied by Dutch supermarket company Ahold USA, is owned by Benderson Development Co., which has been marketing it for lease since December. Built in 1993, the facility has 71 bays and loading docks, plus 80 truck parking spaces and 370 car parking spaces, and ceiling heights of up to 33 feet.

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