Cary, NC – Atlanta, Boston and Austin were all popular speculation picks for Amazon’s new headquarters while local governments and business developers tried to secure the tech and retail giant in the Triangle. Now, Amazon reveals it will split HQ2 into two sites and already picking one site few people had circled as their guess.
HQ2 Split In Two
This month, Amazon said HQ2 will not be one massive campus like it has currently in Seattle but two evenly split offices, with 25,000 employees each. In other words, the amount of economic activity and hiring (and traffic) competing municipalities across the continent were expecting is cut in half.
To look at this glass half full, this means the chances of a city being selected for HQ2 drastically go up since there are two sites being built instead of one, even if it is not as big. But with Amazon’s big announcement came another big news drop as one of these two HQ2 sites looks like it has been picked, and it’s very close to us.
Crystal City, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, is being reported as one of Amazon’s sites with real estate being bought up rapidly and leaked information from Amazon employees to the Washington Post (which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) showing Amazon is close to selecting the region officially. Crystal City was undervalued leading up to this decision, with several underused and aged office buildings in the neighborhood that were passed over for federal government usage.
The release of this information produced a reaction from Amazon’s director of economic development and public policy Mike Grella. He tweeted out a CNBC article about the Washington Post report and captioned it “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.”
What Does This Mean for Us?
With all signs pointing to Crystal City being one of the the now two HQ2 locations, could the Triangle be the other site? It would be close by and the smaller size of the campus would benefit our region and its space.
However, at the same time as reports have come out about Crystal City, many outlets are also indicating that New York City may be the second location, though these reports are less iron-clad.
But even if the Triangle does not get one of the HQ2 sites, which now looks all but likely, having one of the sites in Virginia could result in some spill over benefit to the Triangle if economic activity picks up as a result of Amazon opening a large campus there. It would not be as pronounced as the original 50,000 employee plan, nor would it be as big as if Amazon opened HQ2 in Cary or Raleigh or RTP, but it may still be noticeable. And it wouldn’t result in any increased traffic or rents going up.