No public tours or answers on Johnston Amazon opening


Johnston’s local newspaper has been trying to land a tour of the Amazon construction site for more than a year.

The Sun Rise received its first official rejection from Amazon on Jan. 18, 2022.

“We are in the very early stages of construction at this site,” wrote Caitlin McLaughlin, Amazon Public Relations New England. “There are no photos at this time. We would love to do a hard hat tour with you closer to the completion date which is scheduled for second half of 2023.”

Another request, about six months later, was met with no answer. Time passed — eventually a year went by.

In the meantime, the building materialized, from the ground up, a white and blue monolith on the hill above Hartford Avenue.

The Sun Rise hired a drone photographer to document Rhode Island’s biggest building project from the air. You can’t see much from the road — though you can see a lot more now that so many trees have been toppled.

Earlier this month, the Sun Rise contacted Amazon again. We made another request to tour the site.

On Tuesday, March 14, Amazon replied.

“I appreciate you continuing to follow up about Johnston,” McLaughlin wrote. “However, there isn’t any new information or a timeline to share from us on this project right now. As things firm up, I will be sure to keep you posted. And I will certainly let you know when we are able to do a tour.”

A few days later, on March 17, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. announced on Twitter that he had toured the site with US Sen. Jack Reed.

“Had a great tour of Amazon facility in Johnston this morning with @SenJackReed,” Polisena wrote on Twitter.

Polisena listed the local windfalls the project is expected to yield: “1,000 union construction jobs,” “$145m in tax revenue for Johnston over the next 20 years,” “over 1,000 full-time jobs,” and “installation of new of RIPTA route for public transit.”

He released four photos from the tour.

The Sun Rise wrote back to Amazon: “Saw this tweet today from the Johnston Mayor.  He toured the facility with Sen. Jack Reed. If politicians are touring, why can't the local newspaper?”

Amazon mulled the question for a few days, and after the weekend, they answered.

“I understand your anticipation to get into the site,” McLaughlin replied. “As soon as it is open to the public, you will be the first one to know and we can arrange a tour.”

So, on the record, the only opening day estimate available to the public is last year’s “second half of 2023” best guess.

“As of right now, there are no updates to share on the Amazon project,” said Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr.’s Deputy Chief of Staff Dominique Turner. “Feel free to use the information and photos from the mayor's tweet.”

The first day of spring has passed. We’re entering the second quarter of the year. The end of the fiscal year’s about three months away.

We’ll keep asking.


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  • RELangseth

    This is most unfortunate. Need to review Amazon facility problems at Bradley International Airport. Significant labor problems. Question is where will all to product come from / go to from this facility. Another one going up in Smithfield on Route 7 and another big one going up in Johnston an yet another in Warwick north of the airport. Over in Connecticut, one going up near Putnam. And they say, no impact on flights in and out of T.F. Green. Senator Reed needs to wake up fast to what is going on all over the place.

    Thursday, March 30, 2023 Report this