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Share Amazon HQ2 would be half disappointment, half relieved for Crystal City

Jonathan Connell Reports Covering Economic Development Focusing on Commercial Real Estate and Trump Organization November 6 at 4:04 pm Crystal…

Crystal City in Northern Virginia is still benefiting from landing thousands of Amazon jobs as part of the company’s planned expansion, but individuals near the process said they now expect the 50,000 jobs of the project to be shared between at least two cities – an abrupt last minute change to a search that has been in progress for more than a year. 19659004] The opportunity to divide the project has been discussed with officials in Virginia according to three people familiar with the negotiations. Virginia officials are prepared to make an announcement soon, when Amazon makes its final decision, according to people close the call.

An individual in the vicinity of the process said that Amazon had decided the split and another said there was “very much on the table” as recently as a week ago. A third person, who is close to the company, said that Amazon had discussed a split for several months, but was not sure if a final decision had been made.

Amazon refused to comment, in addition to confirming the company’s commitment to make a decision this year. Arlington County and the office of Gov. Ralph Northam (D) also refused to comment.

(Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

It is still unclear how many – if any – other cities remain in the statement. The New York Times reported on Monday that half of the project was expected to go to Long Island City, in Queens. The Office of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D) did not respond to requests for comments.


Crystal City subway station. (Astrid Riecken for Washington Post)

While many of the country focused on the middle of the election, officials from five other finalist sites said, for anonymity, because they had signed an agreement on dissolution with Amazon, saying they had not been told they had been eliminated. There was no indication that either the district or Montgomery County, or that other Virginia sites than Crystal City and nearby Potomac Yard in the city of Alexandria were still being considered.

In Dallas, the parent company in Dallas Morning News left a legislative application this week to sell the newspaper to the former central headquarters in an agreement that would provide additional compensation for the procurement developer later “conclude an Amazon agreement.”

A Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce spokesman who handles the city’s bid declined to comment.

Amazone’s obvious decision to divide the project instead of opening a second headquarters in line with its Seattle campus, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, angry some who said that Amazon had fought up competition among the cities just c to abolish the midstream rules . Some said it was unfair that the company seemed to consider only websites in more prosperous communities.

Amazon launched the project in the fall of 2017, dubbed it HQ2 and issued search criteria for “a second company headquarters” with as many as 50,000 jobs.

“Due to the successful growth of the company, it now requires a second company headquarters in North America,” read the request for proposals.

Bezos personally reiterated the scope of the project in a press release: “We expect HQ2 to be fully equivalent to our Seattle headquarters,” he said.

City scientist and academics Richard Florida called the process a “shame” that forced cities and said “cough incentives”. [19659019] Greg Leroy from Washington-based advocacy group Good Jobs First said that jurisdictions offering solid subsidies to Amazon – as promises to expand roads or transit – could face paying the same amount for fewer jobs.

“I think it would be very unusual if there are no promises of special offers on the table,” says Leroy.

Others said that the idea of ​​sharing is meaningful to Amazon because of the difficulty of finding 50,000 skilled workers – many of them computer engineers – in a single region. Concerns about the pressure Amazone’s growth could take on housing, transport networks and schools could also be relieved.

“By choosing two cities, Amazon will not increase the cost of labor as much as they may have by focusing demand in just one subway, “said Heidi Learner, chief economist at the consulting firm Savills Studley.

” Maybe Half is Good, “said Mark J. Rozell, Dean of the Schar School for Politics and Government at George Mason University. “Many people worried about excessive burden on local resources, capacity, schools, housing costs.”

In Virginia and New York f rblir public largely in the dark about what is offered now, since neither state has made its bid public. New York officials have said that they have not offered anything to Amazon beyond what is available to other companies, but last week announced $ 180 million in infrastructure improvements to Long Island City – which would support Amazon’s campus if it was there.

Following the Washington Post reported Saturday, Amazon was close to a deal for Crystal City, the state of Lee J. Carter (D-Manassas) posted a question on Twitter: “Can not wait to find out how much public money we cough for this. And if you think NoVA is expensive now, just wait until we get stuck in HQ2! “

After the published story, Amazon’s Director of Economic Development, Mike Grella tweeted ] that Virginia officials treated their non-disclosure agreement “Like a used napkin”, which seemed to have had a chilling effect on the officials’ willingness to discuss their plans to accommodate the company.

Officials in Virginia still expect that Amazon will make a decision this month, if not in the coming days. When doing so, it will lead leaders in losing jurisdictions to assess all the time and money they commit to seeking 50,000 jobs, especially if they do not end up in one place.

“I think we’ve known for a while that this was something they considered,” said an official from a finalist jurisdiction about the split. “I would not say we felt wrong. For one thing we got millions in free advertising.”

Meanwhile, potential winners prepared to make the most of the surprising event.

“I’m sure there will be some disappointment” if a jurisdiction has to share the project, “said Stephen Fuller, a regional economist at George Mason University. “Everyone goes to the home here and maybe it’s only a double. It would still be very important. Who else takes 25,000 jobs?”

Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.

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