Amazon HQ2 winner appears to be both New York and Crystal City, Virginia

The New York Times reports that Amazon will split its HQ2
between two cities, likely Long Island City and the DC suburb

Crystal City, Virginia, and New York City will be the joint home
of Amazon’s second headquarters. The unexpected decision to split
the company’s second home between the two locations caps more
than a year of speculation over which city would become the second
home of the trillion-dollar retail giant, as well as a promised 8
million-square-foot campus, 50,000 high-paying jobs, and $5 billion
in investment. The company plans to employ 25,000 employees at each
location, according to a
New York Times story
that suggests deals in Virginia and New
York are near completion.

Many companies have been floated as front-runners over the last
few months, including Denver, which was picked by the
New York Times
, New York City, as well as Atlanta and Chicago.
As soon as a Wall Street Journal story from earlier today suggested
Amazon was thinking of splitting HQ2, some
analysts speculated
the company would choose New York City and
D.C.

In February, a small website in Arlington, Virginia, ARLnow.com, set off rumors that the D.C.
area was poised to win when it found an article about the area was

getting significant traffic
from an internal Amazon site
dedicated to the headquarters search. Other reports suggested the
proximity to Washington, D.C., the site of potential regulatory
battles, as well as
Jeff Bezos’s mansion in Kalorama
, made the greater Washington
area the preordained winner.


Amazon The #HQ2 finalists, which were revealed in January. How
Amazon kicked off the ‘urbanist Super Bowl’

Amazon did its best throughout the process to maximize the
publicity value of the contest, which some dubbed the “urbanist
Super Bowl,” as well as extract potential subsidies from local
leaders. NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway likened the
competition to a “Hunger
Games
” environment.

After announcing plans for a second, massive North American
headquarters the equal of its presence in Seattle last
September
, cities scrambled to assemble bids to land Amazon,
and threw themselves, and tax breaks, at the company. A total of
238 cities across Canada, Mexico, and the United States bid for
HQ2, including a number of
outlandish, humorous, and somewhat silly ploys
to land the
e-commerce titan. In January, the company announced a
list of 20 finalists
.

Amazon had repeatedly said the new headquarters would rival
Seattle in terms of the size of the company’s footprint. Enrico
Moretti, an economics professor at the University of
California-Berkeley, has estimated that in addition to new Amazon
employees, HQ2 could bring up to 250,000 additional indirect jobs
to the winning city.

While the economic prospects have had mayors and economic
development teams salivating at the possibility of new jobs and
sizable investment, others have cautioned that such rapid growth
comes with a cost, including new
affordable housing
and transportation challenges.

 Alex
Garland
The Amazon Spheres opened earlier this year in Seattle.

The example of
Seattle
, which has seen housing costs, affordability, and
transportation issues become more complicated and deeply rooted due
to Amazon’s expansion in the city, has been held up as a
lesson.

Seattle’s complicated relationship with the company has been a
source of wealth and worry for citizens. In March, Amazon announced
it would expand its Seattle real estate holdings to
14 million square feet
of office space, the largest footprint
of any major company in a single U.S. city. That huge presence
showed itself during the city’s debate earlier this year over a
head tax, which would levy a per-employee tax on large companies to
fund efforts to battle homelessness. Amazon’s antipathy towards
what the company considered a “tax
on jobs
,” and threats to
pause construction over the measure
, demonstrated its
considerable clout. After initially passing the measure,
the city council repealed it in June
,

Kshama Sawant, a city councilmember,
called the repeal
, “a cowardly betrayal of the needs of
working people.”

Does one of the nation’s biggest companies need public money?

Amazon’s bid process, which specifically included subsidies as
one of the deciding factors, has been criticized as an example of
the problems with
corporate subsidies and economic development
. The company,
which has a
market cap of more than $1 trillion dollars
and is
run by the world’s richest man
, has received $1.6 billion in
subsidies from 129 communities since 2000, according to the
nonprofit Good Jobs
First
.

Many cities signed non-disclosure agreements as part of the HQ2
bidding process, meaning local boosters didn’t know what their
cities would be giving away for the chance to land Amazon.

Urbanist
Richard Florida
helped start an online petition signed by
academics and urbanists, asking city leaders to reject subsidizing
HQ2, in affect, creating a “non-aggression pact” between
competing metro areas. City council members in Nashville, which
offered its own secretive and unsuccessful bid, passed a
Do
Better” bill
that will force companies to disclose
information during the bidding process for public incentives.

Amazon’s growing footprint

Amazon’s decision to split HQ2 between Long
Island City
in Queens, New York, a subway ride from Midtown
Manhattan, and Crystal City, Virginia, located near Washington,
D.C., represents its most substantial expansion, but it’s far
from its only new development. The company has demonstrated a
voracious appetite for office space, distribution and logistics
facilities, and warehouses; its
capital expenditures are now roughly equivalent to Walmart
,
despite having just a handful of physical locations. New projects
announced this year include: tech offices in Boston and Vancouver,
new fulfillment centers in Nevada, Missouri, and Michigan.

With Amazon now instantly becoming a dominant industry in these
cities, this new physical presence underscores the incredible reach
and power of the company. With its
acquisition of Whole Foods
,
experiments in cashier-less retail stores
, and
huge appetite for industrial real estate
, the company is making
its impact felt in urban areas around the country. Hopefully Long
Island City and Crystal City can use the Amazon affect to its
advantage. Many cities have
used the HQ2 bidding process
as a means to bring attention to
shortfalls and focus on investment in infrastructure, transit, and
workforce development.

Some city leaders have even felt the
attention they gained from being a part of the contest
has been
a positive, and helped position them for future Amazon expansion,
with the expectation that the company’s continued growth is all
but foreordained.

“It’s not unfathomable that they may create just as many
jobs again in 10 to 15 years,” says John Krueger, executive vice
president of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, which pitched
a losing bid for HQ2. “Very few companies can make a credible
claim to do that.”

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
Amazon HQ2 winner appears to be both New York and Crystal City, Virginia