- Amazon has reportedly advanced to "late-stage talks" with three finalist cities — New York, Dallas and Crystal City in Arlington County, VA — for its planned second headquarters (HQ2), according to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and others.
- The Post suggested Crystal City may be crowned the winning location, reporting that JBG Smith, a top real estate developer in the area, has "pulled some of its buildings off the leasing market" in preparation for the announcement. Amazon's Director of Economic Development Mike Grella, however, tweeted that such speculation is "not doing [the city] any favors," and hinted folks may be violating nondisclosure agreements regarding the selection.
Memo to the genius leaking info about Crystal City, VA as #HQ2 selection. You’re not doing Crystal City, VA any favors. And stop treating the NDA you signed like a used napkin. https://t.co/wqrZLqr8MQ— Mike Grella (@MikeGrella) November 3, 2018
- During an event last week hosted by global nonprofit FIRST, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told journalist Walter Isaacon that he's trusting his gut in making the final decision. "Ultimately the decision will be made with intuition after gathering and studying a lot of data — for a decision like that, as far as I know, the best way to make it is you collect as much data as you can, you immerse yourself in that data but then you make the decision with your heart," Bezos said.
For weeks, reporters have speculated the final HQ2 location to be in the DC region, mostly due to its educated workforce and its reputation as a growing tech hub, as well as Amazon's recent membership in the Washington, DC Chamber of Commerce and Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post.
And since the company announced its 20 HQ2 finalists in January, the DC region has been positioning itself as the ideal location for HQ2 in ways both discreet and forward. In late 2017, the city rolled out its "#ObviouslyDC" initiative on social media, accompanied by a not-so-humble website detailing the many reasons Amazon should choose DC: its "vibrant, diverse, and growing economy," its title as the "third most livable city in the country," and its "culturally-rich culinary and entertainment corridors," among other assets.
While Crystal City is not located in DC proper, its proximity to the District — just over the Potomac River that runs along Washington's Southwest Waterfront — will have drastic impact on the District itself. The company has made it clear the facility will take up at least a half-million square feet of space by the end of 2019, and will eventually host approximately 50,000 employees — which means DC would need to immediately prepare for an influx of new city residents and their families. And while WMATA has invested an increasing amount of money and time in metro improvements, and the city has prioritized shared mobility services such as bike- and scooter-share systems, increased traffic and congestion is an issue that would likely loom over the city for years.
Dallas and New York would experience similar benefits and struggles in becoming the host city of HQ2. In Dallas, the city is also welcoming an influx of tech talent. However, service of its transportation system (DART) is often described as "underperforming," which would be an obstacle for an addition of 50,000 workers. New York, on the other hand, is the financial capital of the country and is arguably well-suited for such an impactful population increase. Yet housing prices are already climbing, even without the influence of Amazon (not to mention the city's subway system is under constant criticism for shoddy service).
Despite any speculation about where HQ2 will land, Amazon remains tight-lipped — and there is still the possibility that any of the other 20 finalists could be crowned victorious. The company is expected to announce a winner by the end of 2018, most likely after the midterm elections but before the holiday season.