People in Crystal Cities Shouldn't Throw Stones

Amazon in “advanced talks” with three cities for HQ2 as info leaks

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Sunset over the Reagan National Airport and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, rumored to be the future home of Amazon's HQ2. (Joseph Gruber/Flickr)
Sunset over the Reagan National Airport and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, rumored to be the future home of Amazon's HQ2. (Joseph Gruber/Flickr)

Sources close to the selection of Amazon’s future second headquarters (HQ2) have reportedly released details that the company’s refined shortlist comprises New York, Dallas, and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.

While nothing is set in stone, Amazon seems to be furthest along in the selection process with Crystal City—up to the point of scouting out potential real estate locations in the city and discussing how long it would take to move in a first wave of employees.

At the time of writing, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have reported that Amazon may be splitting its future HQ2 across two cities, New York and a location in Arlington, with 25,000 employees in each.

Amazon first announced the search for a second home in September of 2017, and 238 cities from across the U.S. and Canada all put in their bid to attract the online retail giant and its shiny new $5 billion headquarters and associated 50,000 jobs. The process certainly hasn’t been rushed, as it took Amazon until January of 2018 to release their 20 city shortlist. No major announcement will come until after the midterm elections on November 6, but the selection of the final site is slated to be revealed before the end of the year.

Northern Virginia was always a favored contender to receive HQ2 owing to its proximity to Washington D.C. (and as sardonic Twitter posters noted, the location of Jeff Bezos’s newly renovated mansion) and other major eastern cities, and the available stock of occupiable office buildings. Although talks are still advancing with representatives in New York and Dallas, this could be to prime a backup location in case Crystal City falls through.

HQ2 is slated to start operating in 2019, which means that Amazon will have to be ready to hit the ground running with their new headquarters. Lending credence to the Crystal City speculation was a tweet from Mike Grella, Amazon’s director of economic development, who lashed out at the leakers, saying they weren’t “doing Crystal City, VA any favors.”

If Crystal City or the Northern Virginia area really have been favored all along, it could raise questions of whether the other cities wasted their time and money in putting together bids. Worse yet, critics have alleged that Amazon had been sussing out what incentives they could wring from each city, and has even gone against their own selection criteria in drawing up the shortlist.

AN will follow up on this story later this year when the final location of HQ2 is made public.

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