After a lengthy search that narrowed the prospective locations down to 20 in January, reports emerged this week that Amazon may be opting to split the headquarters between two cities.
According to the reports, Amazon is nearing a deal to open one of the facilities in Long Island City and one in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Va., a suburb of Washington DC, and was also in advanced talks with Dallas, Texas. Many have speculated that the greater Washington, DC area could be an appealing choice for Amazon because of its proximity to the nation's capital, given potential regulatory challenges, and the availability of skilled technical workers.
For Amazon, setting up shop in a major population center could come with benefits, namely the ability to find and attract high-skilled technical workers. If the reports are accurate, the partial headquarters in Queens could mean 25,000 new jobs once the facility is up and running. Amazon forecast that the headquarters overall would bring 50,000 full-time jobs to a municipality, in addition to a capital expenditure of $5 billion on the project.
In its initial request for proposals, Amazon's stated criteria for choosing a new site included a population of at least one million, a business-friendly environment, the potential to draw tech talent and a willingness for city planners to think "creatively" about real estate and other factors.
The Long Island City neighborhood would be an intriguing choice for Amazon. The neighborhood itself, inclusive of surrounding areas Queensbridge and Ravenswood, has approximately 20,000 residents and Queens as a whole has a population of more than 2.3 million. New York City's total population exceeds eight million.
It could be a major boon to local business, according to Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association.
"Amazon's decision to locate part of its HQ2 to Long Island City is great news for our region, as many of their employees will choose to live in less expensive homes and apartments in Nassau and Suffolk Counties while bringing back their disposable income to spend in our downtowns supporting local businesses," Law said.
But like any other possible choice for Amazon, it could also come with drawbacks for local residents, noted New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City.
"HQ2 has to work for Queens, not just Amazon," Van Bramer told TheStreet. "We already have an infrastructure deficit in LIC. We must ask how such a complex would impact the people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. This isn't a done deal. The local community must be heard here."
Amazon has said it will make a final decision on HQ2 by the end of this year, with reports indicating that final word could arrive as soon as this week.
Amazon shares rose 1% on Tuesday and are up about 41% so far this year.
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