- Amazon has announced that it will not build half of its second headquarters, HQ2, in New York City as planned.
- After an extensive search, Amazon had originally intended to split HQ2 between Queens, New York, and Arlington, Virginia, but changed the plan after waves of backlash from New Yorkers.
- Its outsized impact on its home city, Seattle, shows the danger of a city being too dependent on a single company, an issue that Arlington will face in the coming decades.
- During a visit to Seattle’s ‘Amazonia’ neighborhood, it became apparent just how radically the company has changed the city, for both better and worse.
After nearly a year of deliberation, Amazon announced where it would build its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.
Instead of choosing one city, the company decided to build two new headquarters, in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, and the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. As Business Insider’s Dennis Green reported, each of the two locations were supposed to get about half of the expected 50,000 employees, and a portion of the investment.
Now, the plan has changed. On Thursday, Amazon announced that it will no longer build half of its HQ2 in New York. This announcement comes after fervent opposition from local lawmakers, and it’s estimated that New York could lose out on over $27 billion of tax revenue. Analysts expect the change in plans will not hurt Amazon’s business.
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You only need look to Seattle to see why a city might be apprehensive about hosting the giant.
Seattle’s median rent has jumped by three times as much as the national figure over the last decade, while the city has the third largest homeless population in the country, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Many have blamed soaring housing prices and the homeless issue on Amazon, which accounts for more than 45,000 jobs in the city and around 20% of Seattle’s prime office real estate.
Amazon dominates Seattle, sprawling across downtown and upsetting locals with snarled traffic, soaring housing prices, never-ending construction, and accelerated gentrification. The city has seen an unprecedented economic surge, adding 220,000 jobs over the past decade.
But the surge has come at a cost. Amazon has the economic leverage to essentially dictate terms, a dynamic readily apparent in the company’s search for HQ2’s eventual location.
In December 2017, I spent a day in the Seattle neighborhood locals call Amazonia to see how Amazon has affected the city.
In the ’90s, Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood was a mess of parking lots, warehouses, and industrial buildings. Amazon has transformed the neighborhood and its surrounding areas, Belltown and Denny Triangle. Each of those pins on the map is an Amazon office.
Amazon’s offices are spread across more than 33 buildings throughout the area, though some say the number is closer to 40. The company leases 100,000 square feet of office space in this building, nicknamed Otter.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
Source: SF Gate
It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly Amazon dominates downtown. The company is up to occupying 8.1 million square feet of office space in Seattle, reports say. Day 1 Tower, opened in 2016, is one of two towers that form the heart of Amazon’s campus.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
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