Saturday , November 28 2020

Amazon HQ2: Advanced negotiations in the second North Virginian center



Amazon.com has held advanced discussions on the possibility of opening up World War II headquarters in Crystal City, including how quickly it could relocate employees, what buildings would they occupy and how to announce the motion communication to the public , people are close to the process.

Discussions were more detailed than those that the company found in other locations in Northern Virginia and other cities, with the speculation that Arlington County is a front-runner who is the second North American center of the online retail giant and 50,000 jobs.

The company is so close to choosing that Crystal City's most popular real estate developer, JBG Smith, pulled down some of its buildings on the leasing market, and officials in the field discussed how to announce the public this month, according to half-yearly elections, public and private sector officials because of the conditions of anonymity, because Amazon demanded that the selection process be kept secret. The company may have similar discussions with other finalists.


The 1900 Crystal Drive building was discovered in Arlington on October 19, 2018, with a large color tarpaulin. (Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)

Two people approached the process and said that if Crystal City was chosen, Amazon would probably move an initial group of hundreds of employees into 1851 St. Bell St. or 1770 Crystal Dr., two dated in the office building, based on their owner, JBG Smith's 9 months or less utilization. The offer also includes the Alexandria sites in Potomac Yard.

"There are a lot of activities," said a person close to the process. The person added that people seem "very positive and seem very confident …" What we do not know is maybe two or three more places and they do the same thing, which is awesome for the people here.

At a New York conference on Thursday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos told the crowd: "Ultimately, we make the decision with intuition, after collecting and studying a lot of data, to such a decision as far as I know it's the best way, to collect as much data as you can, absorb this data, but make that decision with your heart. "(Bezos owns the Washington Post.)

The spokesperson of Amazon and JBG Smith did not address him, just as Arlington County Council President Katie Cristol (D) said.

Mayor of Alexandria Allison Silberberg (D) declined to discuss whether advanced negotiations had taken place but said, "We think we are offering a very competitive opportunity and in any case is an honor for us."

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday in WTOP Radio asked that Crystal City was the front-runner, saying, "Many are concerned about the decision, Amazon's announcement … Many [Virginia government] the resources are currently being used and I think for good reason. "

The Northam spokesman continued to deny his comments on Friday.

But after this story has been published, Mike Grella, director of economic development at Amazon, posted on Twitter: "Remember the brilliant leak information from Crystal City, VA on # HQ2, Do Not Do Crystal City, VA And Do not Handle the NDA You Signed Like a Used Napkin" – he said, referring to non-disclosure agreements with which Amazon committed the declarants.

Excitement and anxiety

After launching a real show-like prize game with a second home at the end of 2017, Amazon has effectively stopped the search for the past nine months. Twenty final cities – many of which have spent big time and money at the company – have little information about where they stand, according to four other arbitrators.

But stock market investors, online betting sites and corporate resettlement experts have stated that North Virginia is a favorite of HQ2.

Leaders in the Washington area believe the project is losing the case, and Virginia, Maryland and the District are economically beneficial to everyone. With Crystal City's easy transit access, near Reagan National Airport, and because of office building skills, it has long been a serious driver. District and Montgomery County are also among the 20 finalists.

On betting sites, North Virginia is most likely to have a chance to land the project, and stock analysts have sweetened JBG Smith – most of Crystal City's owners – as Amazon's announcement approached. Analysts from Stifel Nicolaus recently updated the company from "Sell" to "The Moon," and say that only the option that Amazon chooses Crystal City has given four or five dollars to the shares of the company price.

Waiting in the Washington area is growing, because filters filter out that Amazon is in the final stages of decision-making. The company was reported to have been reported by the end of October, but released it by November, according to individuals close to the process.

"They said publicly that HQ2 would be operating in 2019," one man said. "Begin with the finesse in detail that they are doing something they do absolutely … … I think there are very few finals. [The announcement] requires some level of coordination and prior notification. "

Sharon Bulova (D), chairman of the Fairfax County, VA, where one of the locations was located, felt the atmosphere.

"What I get from residents, enthusiasm," he said. "They're very excited about Amazon's work."

This is also anxiety. Months of anticipation are not worrying about their concerns about Amazon's potential pressure, which is already split between steep housing prices, crowded roads and yawning between prosperous and low-income people.

When Bezos was speaking at a Washington Club in September, more than a dozen demonstrators took over the pavement, and civilian groups – in some cases trade union activists – expressed concern that such a fast-growing company would add to the region's schools, roads and housing prices.

Even without Amsterdam, the Metropolitan Washington Governing Council estimates that the region needs to add 235,000 units per annum by 2025 in order to keep pace with the expected increase in labor.

The arrival of Amazon may increase the target to around 267,000 by 2026, according to a recent analysis by the Urban Institute. At present, the region is currently expanding by nearly 170,000 new units, and the deficit is a threat to the worsening of inequality.

"Whether Amazon is coming or not, we have a challenge," said Peter Péter, the Urban Institute. "The ongoing economic growth has favored some people and has caused problems for others."

Amazon claims that it only plans to invest $ 5 billion in capital in the city it chooses, and that its headquarters has injected $ 38 billion more into the local Seattle economy and $ 1.40 each dollar spent by the company. But growth has led to cracks between the company and Seattle.

Homelessness has increased in the city and Amazon has promised to cancel some of its expansion plans when the city has paid new taxes to large companies to raise money to resolve the problem.

Small transparency from jurisdictions

Bezos and the company have made a number of recent announcements that would loosen the Amazon public image when opening HQ2.

The world's richest man, Bezos, announced in September that he donates $ 2 billion of his own money to support groups in the United States to fight homeless people and establish a nursery network in the backward communities.

"I do not think it's a coincidence that one of those issues was homelessness," said Joe Parilla, a Brookings Institute co-worker. "I think you can have a pretty clear connection between the disputes over many of these technology hubs and how it's going to cover Amazon because it is investing in these hot markets."

In October – after Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Judged the employee's treatment – Amazon announced that she would increase her minimum wage to every employee for $ 15 per hour.

But the company's confidentiality claim has potentially a bitter controversy about how many countries and cities are willing to take on the company in the background.

Only a few of the state subsidies offered by the state, cities and counties to Amazon have been made public, which some analysts believe taxpayers can make easier if they are factually reported. Maryland is estimated to offer a $ 8.5 billion stimulus package, while Newark subsidies are estimated at $ 7 billion. On Wednesday, Judge of the Mayor of Allegheny County issued Pittsburgh's proposal after a lawsuit with local television. The decision is likely to appeal.

"I would ask why cities did not arrive [with their proposals], and I suspect that it is because of some backsliding to the supply of cities, "said Heidi Learner, chief economist at the Savills Studley consulting company." From the point of view of the public, the question is what the city is hiding or why not divide it how [those proposals] would actually result in more tax revenues in the queue? "

As Amazon initially asked for more information, some executives expected to list the list of finalists publicly, so that the economic development teams in the eliminated cities had a chance to move on.

"I think the process is a bit out of the way. They probably have some sort of downward choice and have changed their position," said Jason Miller, CEO at Greater Washington Partnership.

In addition to tax incentives, some cities have offered roads, transit, data networks or airports if Amazon arrives. Parilla, a Brookings, said it was more advantageous to "maximize the wider benefits of investing as much as possible."

You do not think that Amazon, a $ 816 billion company, makes sense to put pressure on a city or state that has a huge support package that would make money for other services.

"I have the feeling that Amazon does not want to repeat the conflicts in Seattle," said Parilla. "It's not great to forget about the brand of economic and racial inequalities in the city where we will invest."

The final decision is likely to relax with Bezos. He has long shown his autonomy in such matters, for example, when he wants to buy a new center for The Washington Post within a short time.

One of the post-leaders and advisers was one of the preferred choices for a planned office building near Union Station, which was made at a visit to Bezos at potential locations.

This place was your favorite – as long as the Bezos weighed and chose a downtown building.

Now that Bezos is approaching the most decisive decision on HQ2 search, Washington leaders hope they will not throw away a scrapbook.


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