Amazon has held advanced debates on the possibility of opening its highly sought-after second center in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia, including how quickly it will move the workers there, the buildings it would occupy, and how traffic would be communicated to the public , according to people close to the process.
The discussions were more detailed than the company had in relation to other sites in northern Virginia and some other cities nationwide, adding the conjecture that the Arlington County venue is pioneering to land at the North American North American Secondary Office for retail and 50,000 jobs.
The company is so close to the choice that Crystal City's top developer, JBG Smith, has pulled some of its buildings out of the finance lease and local officials have discussed how to make a statement to the public this month, midterm elections, according to public and private employees who spoke about the anonymity condition because Amazon called for the selection process to remain confidential. The company may have similar conversations with other finalists.
Two people near the process said that if Crystal City were selected, Amazon was likely to move an initial team of several hundreds of employees to 1851 S. Bell Street or 1770 Crystal Drive, two office buildings dating back to the reconstruction but could are prepared for possession by their owner, JBG Smith, in nine months or less. The offer also includes locations in Potomac Yard, Alexandria.
"There is a lot of activity," said a person close to the process. The face added that people "look really positive and look pretty sure … What we do not know, maybe there are two or three other sites, and they do the same thing. That's what's scary about the people around here."
At a conference in New York on Thursday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told the crowd: "Eventually the decision will be made with intuition after gathering and studying a lot of data – for such a decision, as far as I know, the best way to do it is to collect as much data as you can, immerse yourself in this data, but then make the decision with your heart. " (Bezos also owns The Washington Post)
The representatives of Amazon and JBG Smith refused to comment, like Arlington County Board ChairKatie Cristol.
Mayor of Alexandria, Allison Silberberg, refused to discuss if advanced talks were held but said: "We believe we have presented a very competitive choice and we are certainly a consideration to study."
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam asked the WTOP radio station on Wednesday to speculate that Crystal City was the first champion, said: "Many of us are eagerly awaiting a decision, an announcement from Amazon … [Virginia government] the resources are being spent now, and I think for good reason. "
A Northam spokesman declined to comment further on Friday.
After launching a risky show-like reality for a second home in late 2017, Amazon effectively closed the research revelations in the last nine months. Twenty city finalists – many of whom have spent enough time and money seeking the business – have little information about where they are, according to officials in four other charities.
However, stock market investors, online betting sites and corporate migration experts said North Virginia is the favorite to land the so-called HQ2.
Washington's leaders believe the project is theirs, and that Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia will benefit economically. Crystal City, with easy transit access, close to Reagan National Airport and ready office buildings, has long been seen as a strong contender. The District and Montgomery County, Maryland, are also among the 20 finalists.
Betting sites give northwest Virginia the most likely chance of landing the project, and stock analysts have swallowed their view of JBG Smith – the owner of the largest part of Crystal City – Amazon said. Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus recently upgraded the company from "Sale" to "Hold" and only say the probability that Amazon chooses Crystal City has added four or five dollars to the company's stock price.
In Washington, the prediction is rising as the hints filter that Amazon is in the final stages of the decision-making process. The company deliberately examined the announcement by the end of October, but it put it until November, according to people close to the process.
"They have publicly stated that they want HQ2 to work in 2019," said one person. "Starting to work at this level of detail with the finalists is something they do absolutely … I think it's a very small number of finalists …. [The announcement] requires some level of coordination and warning. "
Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Fairfax County, Virginia, where one of the sites is located, has felt the atmosphere.
"What I get from the inhabitants is enthusiasm," he said. "They are excited about the work the Amazon will bring".
It is also anxiety. Monthly holdings did not stop raising concern about the potential pressure Amazon could have on the region's already abrupt housing prices, traffic jams and the yawning gap between wealthy residents and low-income residents.
When Bezos spoke at a Washington-based event in September, more than a dozen protesters occupied the outer sidewalk, and political groups – sometimes united with trade union activists – raised concerns about what would be the addition of such a fast-growing company for schools in the region, roads and house prices.
Even without Amazon, the Washington Council of Metropolitan Washington estimates that the region should add 235,000 dwelling units by 2025 to keep pace with the expected increase in employment.
The arrival of the Amazon could push the target to about 267,000 by 2026, according to a recent analysis by the Urban Institute. Currently, the region is only in a rhythm to add about 170,000 new units until then and the shortage threatens to worsen inequality. "
"Whether Amazon is coming or not, we have a challenge there," said Peter Tatian of the Urban Institute. "Economic growth that has happened benefits some people and causes problems for others."
Amazon says it plans to make only $ 5 billion in capital investment in the city it will choose and that its headquarters will provide an additional $ 38 billion to Seattle's local economy, generating an additional $ 1.40 for every dollar spent on the company. But its growth has led to cracks between the company and Seattle.
The lack of housing in the city has escalated and Amazon has pledged to cancel some of its expansion plans if the city passed a new tax on big businesses to raise money to tackle the problem.
Bezos and the company have made several recent announcements that could soften Amazon's public image as it moves to open the H2Q.
Now the richest man in the world, Bezos announced in September that he would donate $ 2 billion of his own money to support groups struggling for homelessness in the United States and create a network of preschools in communities that have not served.
"I do not think it's accidental that one of these issues was homelessness," said Joe Parilla, a Brookings Institute consultant. "I think you can draw a fairly clear link between the debate that unfolds on many of these technology nodes and how it gives a small cover to Amazon as it invests in these hot markets."
In October – after months of criticism by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., About Employee Treatment – Amazon announced it would raise the minimum wage for all employees to $ 15 per hour.
However, the company's request for confidentiality kept a potentially thorny debate about how many states and cities should be willing to offer the company for its background work.
Few of the public subsidies offered to the Amazon by states, cities and counties for the project have been made public, something some analysts say could cause frills to taxpayers if they are announced as fait accompli. Maryland has provided an incentive package worth about $ 8.5 billion, while Newark, New Jersey's subsidies are estimated at $ 7 billion. On Wednesday, a judge in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, ordered the liberation of Pittsburgh's proposal after a legal battle with a local television station. The decision is expected to be challenged.
"I would ask why the cities were not closer [with their proposals], and I suspect there will be some push back to what cities offer, "said Heidi Learner, chief economist at Savills Studley." On the public's side, the question is what the city is hiding or why it should not share the way [those proposals] would increase tax revenue below the line? "
After Amazon's initial push for more information, some leaders are waiting to hear the list of finishers that have been publicly restricted, giving economic development teams out of neutralized cities the chance to move forward.
"I think the process has been removed from them a bit, they probably planned some sort of demotion and changed their position on it," said Jason Miller, chief executive of the Greater Washington partnership, a business group.
In addition to tax breaks, some cities have offered to build or expand roads, transit, data networks or airports if Amazon arrives. Parilla, of Brookings, said it would be preferable to "maximize the wider benefit of these investments as much as possible".
He also does not think it makes sense for Amazon, a company worth $ 816 billion, to push a city or state for a huge subsidy package that could cut money for other services.
"My feeling is that Amazon does not want to repeat some of the controversies in Seattle," Parilla said. "It is not important to consider the brand as ignoring the existing economic and gender inequalities in the city where it is going to invest."
The final decision is likely to rest with Bezos. He has a history of showing independence in such matters as when he needed a seat for The Washington Post just after his purchase.
The preferred choice among executives and consultants was a planned office building near Union Station, which was offered to Bezos during a tour of potential locations.
This site was the favorite – until Bezos weighed and chose a downtown building.
Now that Bezos is approaching a decision on the far-reaching search for HQ2, the leaders of the Washington area hope they will not throw another curve.
It was first published in The Washington Post