Wednesday , April 21 2021

Amazon can turn North Virginia into its second home



Amazon has held advanced discussions on the possibility of opening the second most sought-after headquarters in the Crystal City area of ​​Arlington, Virginia, including how quickly it will transfer employees there, which structures it will occupy and how the announcement of the move will be made public, according to people close to the process.

The discussions were more detailed than those of the company were regarding other locations in northern Virginia and some other cities nationwide, adding speculation that the Arlington County site is a front-runner to land the second online retailer of North America headquarters of its 50,000 50,000 jobs .

The company is so close to its choice that Crystal City's leading real estate developer, JBG Smith, has pulled some of its members out of the leasing market and officials in the region have discussed how to publish a public announcement this month, following public and private sources who spoke about anonymity, The company may be conducting similar discussions with other finalists.

Two people close to the process said that if Crystal City was selected, Amazon is expected to move an initial group of several hundred employees into 1851 S. Bell Street or 1770 Crystal Drive, two office buildings that have been targeted for refurbishment but could be absorbed by their owners, JBG Smith, within nine months or less. The proposal also includes sites in Potomac Yard, Alexandria.

"There is a lot of activity," said a person close to the process. "People look really positive, and they look pretty safe … What we do not know, maybe there are two or three other sites, and they do the same thing. That's what scares the people around here."

At a conference in New York on Thursday, Amazon founder and CEO Bezos told the audience: "Ultimately the decision will be made intuition after collecting and learning many data – for such a decision, as far as I know, the best way to make it you collect data As many as you can, you immerse yourself in the data because then you make the decision with your heart. "

Amazon and JBG Smith declined to comment, as did Arlington's chairman, Kathy Kristol.

The mayor of Alexandria, Alison Zilberberg, refused to discuss whether advanced talks were taking place, but "we think we have offered a very competitive option, and honor is certainly to be considered."

Virginia Virginia Gov. Ralph North on Wednesday asked WTOP radio about speculation that Crystal City was the front runner said, "A lot of us are waiting horribly for a decision, Amazon's announcement … a lot [Virginia government] The resources are now being spent, and I think there is a good reason. "

The North African spokesman declined to comment on Friday.

After launching a reality as a raffle for the second house at the end of 2017, Amazon has actually closed the discoveries on the search in the past nine months. The 20 terminal cities-many of which spent time and money chasing the company-did not have enough information about where they stood, according to officials in four other jurisdictions. The Lehigh Valley was among the legions of cities and regions that tried to woo the online hustle, but eventually only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were elected to the HQ2 Final in Pennsylvania.

Stock market investors, online gambling sites and enterprise relocation experts have all announced on North Virginia, the favorite land, so-called HQ2.

Washington area leaders believe that their project will lose, and that Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia were all of economic benefit. Crystal City, with easy access to the crossing, proximity to Reagan National Airport, ready to seize office buildings, has long been considered a strong competitor. County Montgomery County, Maryland, are also among the 20 finalists.

The gambling sites give Virginia the highest chances for the project, and analyst analysts sweeten the view of JBG Smith, owner of Rob Crystal City, as Amazon's announcement. Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus recently upgraded the company from "Sell" to "Hold" and say only that Amazon chooses Crystal City to add four or five dollars to its share price.

In the Washington area, the expectation is growing when hints and filters that Amazon is in the final stages of making a decision. The company hesitantly decided to issue a statement by the end of October, but now rejected it until November, according to sources close to the process.

"They said publicly that they wanted HQ2 operating in 2019," said one person. "Starting to work on this level of detail with the finalists is something they do … I think there are very few finalists … [The announcement] Requires a certain level of coordination and advance notice. "

Sharon Bulova, chairman of the board of Fairfax County, Virginia, where one of the sites is located, felt the atmosphere.

"What I raise from the residents is enthusiasm," she said. "They are excited about the jobs that Amazon will bring."

It's also anxiety. Months of waiting did not frighten the fear of the potential pressure that Amazon could put on the steep housing prices of the region, the crowded roads and the pulsating division between its rich and low-income residents.

When Bezos spoke at the Washington Economic Club event in September, more than a dozen demonstrators occupied the sidewalk outside, and civilian groups – sometimes joined by union activists – raised concerns about the added value of a rapidly growing society in the region's schools, roads, and housing prices.

Even without Amazon, the Washington Metropolitan Council estimates that the region should add 235,000 housing units by 2025 to maintain the expected growth rate.

Amazon's arrival could push the target to 267,000 by 2026, according to a recent analysis by the Municipal Institute. At present, the region is only at the rate of adding about 170,000 new units by then, and the shortage threatens to exacerbate inequality. "

"Whether Amazon comes or not we have a challenge there," said Peter Tetian, of the Municipal Institute. "The economic growth that is taking place already exploits some people and causes problems for others."

Amazon says it plans to make only $ 5 billion in capital investment in the city it chooses, and that its headquarters injected another $ 38 billion into Seattle's local economy, creating another $ 1.40 per dollar spent by the company. But its growth has led to cracks between the company and Seattle.

The homeless in the city have escalated and Amazon has sworn to cancel some of its expansion plans if the city goes through a new tax on big business to raise money to tackle the problem.

Bezos and the company have made some recent posts that can soften the public image of Amazon as it moves to open H2Q.

Today, the richest man in the world, announced in September that he would donate $ 2 billion of their money to support groups fighting homeless in the United States and setting up a network of kindergartens in unrecognized communities.

"I do not think it's a coincidence that one of these issues was homelessness," said Gerry Farrella of the Brookings Institution. "I think you can draw a pretty clear link between the debate that is rolling in a lot of these tech hubs and how it gives some coverage to Amazon as it invests in these hot markets."

In October, after months of criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. On its handling of employees, Amazon said it would raise the minimum wage for all employees to $ 15 an hour, though the move angered some veteran Lehigh Valley warehouse workers and beyond.

But the company's request for secrecy has kept a potentially thorny debate, and some countries and cities should be prepared to offer the company for its work, in the background.

Few of the public subsidies offered to the Amazon from countries, cities and districts to the project have been publicized, which some commentators say may cause the taxpayer to blow up if declared as final facts. Maryland offers an incentive package worth $ 8.5 billion, while Newark, New Jersey, has an estimated $ 7 billion in subsidies. On Wednesday, a judge in the County of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, ordered the release of Pittsburgh's offer after a legal battle with a local television station. The decision is likely to be challenged.

"I would ask why the cities were no closer [with their proposals], And I suspect it was because there was some impulse back to what the cities would offer, "said Heidi Liner, chief economist of consulting firm Saviles Studley. From the public's point of view, the question is what the city is hiding in or why they do not share how [those proposals] Will actually lead to additional tax revenues along the line? "

After Amazon initially pressed for more information, some leaders were looking forward to hearing the list of candidates narrowed publicly, giving economic development teams from the cities eliminated an opportunity to move on.

"I think the process has gone a little further, they probably meant some sort of selection and changed their position," said Jason Miller, CEO of Greater Washington Partnership, a business group.

In addition to tax breaks, some cities have offered to build or expand roads, transportation, data networks or airports if Amazon arrives. Freilah, of Brookings, said it was better to "maximize the wider benefit of these investments as much as possible."

He also does not think it makes sense for Amazon, a $ 816 billion company, to press a city or state for a huge subsidy package that will cut money for other services.

"My feeling is that Amazon does not want to repeat some antagonism in Seattle," said Prilla. "It's not a great thing for a brand to be caught indifferent to the economic and economic inequalities that exist in the city where it is going to invest."

The final decision is expected to rest with Bezos. He has a history of demonstrating independence in such matters, for example when he needed headquarters for the Washington Post shortly after he acquired it.

The preferred choice between the mail managers and his advisers was a planned office building near Union Station, which they marked for the Bezos during a tour of potential locations.

This site was the favorite – until Bezos weighed, and chose a building in the city center.

Now that Bezos is approaching a decision on a much more consequential HQ2 search, Washington area leaders hope he will not throw another curveball.

Reading this morning contributed to this story.


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