Amazon’s gruelling, year-long HQ2 search – which mostly entailed cities across the country competing to outdo each other with the most lavish incentives, often behind closed doors — has come to a close, with the company reportedly choosing New York and Crystal City, a neighbourhood in Arlington County, Virginia.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the matter” relayed that the decision has been made and may be announced as soon as Tuesday:
Amazon is dividing the second headquarters evenly between New York’s Long Island City and Arlington County’s Crystal City neighbourhoods, which are both located directly across from the major city centres. The decision effectively gives Amazon a major presence in three coastal cities.
Amazon declined to comment.
For the past week, both New York and Crystal City have been publicly touted as major contenders for HQ2 sites, with reports indicating that the 50,000 jobs Amazon claimed will be created by the move will be split by both cities.
Crystal City is very close to Washington, DC, and well within the boundaries of the capitol’s sprawling national security complex, which could help the e-commerce giant expand its domain into cloud computing contracts with agencies like the CIA, Homeland Security, and the Pentagon.
As Gizmodo noted previously, it’s obvious why the Seattle-based Amazon would choose the biggest East Coast city in New York, though the rumoured site in Queens is an “already crowded, unaffordable, rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood” whose problems will likely be exacerbated by a huge tech campus.
Protests are already being planned in New York, according to a tweet from New York City Council deputy leader Jimmy Van Bramer.
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) November 13, 2018
However, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been an outspoken proponent of welcoming Amazon to the city, telling the >New York Times that he had prepared a “great incentive package” and “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes.” His Wikipedia page was briefly edited on Monday to reflect that statement:
— Good Idea Dave (@DaveCoIon) November 13, 2018
(A separate report by the New York Daily News claimed that Cuomo had proposed the infamously polluted Newtown Creek between Long Island City and Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighbourhood be renamed “Amazon River”, though the source of that report later claimed it was just a funny little joke.)
What’s more, the Journal wrote that “other cities may also receive major sites.” The massive incentives offered by many of those cities have been robustly criticised by economists who say the promised returns often fall short, and as the New York Times noted, the bargaining process for HQ2 may have given Amazon extensive “insight into the kinds of accommodations that places are willing to make to bring it to town.”
The company was reportedly having late-stage discussions with cities including Dallas and Austin, as well as talking with Chicago and Miami until recently.
This is a breaking news story and may be updated as more information becomes available.