Amazon Plans To Split HQ2 Between 2 Locations And Atlanta Is Not One Of Them

Written by Dana Sanchez

In the latest Amazon HQ2 plot twist, people with knowledge of the matter say that the headquarters will be split between two cities — the Long Island City section of Queens, New York, and Crystal City, south of Washingon, D.C. in Arlington County, Northern Virginia.

According to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, Amazon may break its HQ2 in two, and the decision may have everything to do with access to talent.

“Having large footprints in two additional highly educated, appealing metropolitan areas gives Amazon an edge on recruiting talent,” John Talton wrote for the Seattle Times. “It may also be true that Amazon didn’t want to put so many employees in one place and become a lightning rod for criticism, as it has by some in Seattle. … New York City (and) Washington … are more sophisticated, less captives of college-town outrage culture.”

That means 18 of the 20 cities short-listed for a second Amazon headquarters appear to be out of the running for the $5 billion, 50,000-job prospect, including Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Nashville, Tennessee, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

The tech giant’s long-awaited HQ2 decision, which is expected this year and could be officially announced this month, now appears to include more than one location.


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Amazon was in late-stage talks with Dallas, New York City and Crystal City south of Washingon, D.C. in Arlington County, Northern Virginia, people familiar told WSJ. The decision could reshape the company, the city it chooses and its residents’ prospects for being able to find affordable housing.

A year ago, Atlanta was a 2-to-1 favorite to beat out 100-plus cities competing to host Amazon’s second headquarters, according to one offshore wagering platform.

In this Nov. 16, 2009 photo, Stephen Guymon, left, of Twin Falls, Idaho, and Sanferd Glasses, of Kayenta, Ariz., separate packed boxes for final shipping inside the 800,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Atlanta checked many of the boxes Amazon was looking for including strong academic institutions (Georgia Tech, Emory), relatively lower costs, mass transit, and affordable housing.

When Tesla announced its new Gigafactory in Nevada, the city of Sparks saw real estate prices jump 42 percent. Locals have said there was a broader economic impact across Reno. They called it the “Tesla effect”.

After the Washington Post wrote about Crystal City getting strong interest from the Seattle-based e-commerce firm, an Amazon economic development director tweeted against leaking information about HQ2’s site selection.

The responses from Twitter users suggested that economic development directors may be the only people who are really excited about the new site for Amazon HQ2.

The consequences for homeowners and renters will be very different.

Wherever Amazon  decides to put its second home, housing prices will likely skyrocket. Since Amazon solidified its presence in Seattle’s South Union neighborhood seven years ago, home prices in the city have jumped by 83 percent and rents by 47 percent, according to online real estate marketplace Zillow.” — MarketWatch

Amazon has said it expects its second headquarters to eventually occupy about 8 million square feet over the course of 10 years, Dallas Business Journal reported.

What does 8 million square feet look like? Well, put it this way: nine football fields arranged in a square is about 1 million square feet, according to Quora. Or if you prefer lines to squares, 1 million feet is a road 32 feet wide and about six miles long.

Amazon invited competing proposals from cities across the U.S. for its HQ2. Economic development directors went nuts trying to sweeten the deal with offers of taxpayer-funded incentives. Amazon said it would consider metro areas with 1 million-plus people that have an international airport with nonstop flights to Seattle.

When Amazon makes the announcement, that could be the time to buy, according to Marketwatch. Renters should consider homeownership, said Douglas Robinson, a spokesman for NeighborWorks America, a nonprofit organization that supports community development.

“Prices are increasing in many markets, but mortgage rates remain low and lenders do offer a range of low down payment products,” Robinson said in a MarketWatch interview. People who haven’t saved enough for a down payment “should look for down payment assistance grants or forgivable loans.”

This article has been updated.