The facility will provide full-time jobs for more than 1,000 people as early as fall, said Amazon spokesman Ty Rogers.
Those jobs are much needed but are just a down payment, said Jim Morris, son and chief of staff for Mayor Pat Morris.
"This is, I think, a culmination but also a beginning," Jim Morris said.
Amazon, he said, "portends an ambitious future" for the rest of Southgate, the last major open space on the base site. The Southgate area was a golf course when the base was operating. Amazon is the first business to commit to opening there.
Amazon - which says it's the world's largest online retailer - should help bring in other businesses, said Mike Burrows, assistant director of San Bernardino International Airport.
"That's the hope," Burrows said. "This is a real validation, and it should help with the rest of Southgate and the IVDA area."
The Inland Valley Development Agency, a multi-government agency developing the former base, has brought in more than 4,000 jobs directly relating to the former base site - about half of them from Stater Bros. Markets - and about 5,000 indirectly, according to a 2010 study by Cal State San Bernardino.
"This project is a perfect example of how the IVDA continues to benefit our community by creating private/public partnerships which have now added over 11,000 jobs to the city of San Bernardino," said IVDA board member Ovidiu Popescu, a Loma Linda councilman who also is vice president of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority. "We have spent millions in infrastructure to benefit the airport and private investment.
The facility is one of two so-called fulfillment centers Amazon announced Thursday, with the other in Stanislaus County.
"'Fulfillment center' is a term of art that means the point of sale (for any item bought online and shipped by the center) will be San Bernardino," Jim Morris said. "As we did with Kohl's, there will likely have to be some sales-tax sharing agreement. We look forward to that because it is potentially a significant benefit for our city."
The Amazon announcement follows a compromise with Gov. Jerry Brown in September that required the online retailer to build warehouses in the state, creating at least 10,000 new full-time jobs and hiring 25,000 seasonal workers by the end of 2015.
In return, Amazon got a one-year delay before it was required to start paying sales taxes, which it previously had avoided by selling online.
"I think the agreement with Amazon and the state made it possible for us to create investment," Amazon's Rogers said Friday. "It's a great thing for us and a great thing for California."
Rogers said it was too soon to say whether the company would focus on hiring people from the San Bernardino area or how and when people could apply.
"We'll have more details on that as we get closer to opening," he said.
Reach Ryan via email, or call him at 909-386-3916.