The Real Deal New York

Amazon to officially name Long Island City and Crystal City as new headquarters: report

By Erin Hudson | November 12, 2018 09:48PM

Jeff Bezos

It’s about to be official: New York City and Washington, D.C. will soon be named the winners of Jeff Bezos’ golden tickets.

More than one year after its initial announcement, Amazon’s planned $5 billion HQ2 will be split among the neighborhoods of Long Island City in Queens and Crystal City around Washington, D.C., the Wall Street Journal reported late Monday. The e-commerce giant is expected to make an official announcement on Tuesday.

The competition that saw 238 cities across North America vie to become the site of the 50,000-person office kicked off on Sept. 7, 2017. By January, Amazon announced it had narrowed its list to 20 cities — including New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago — and said it would make a decision by the end of 2018.

What followed was months of speculation and reports of under-the-radar assessments and site visits by Amazon representatives.

New York and D.C. are the largest non-Seattle office outposts for Amazon, so the decision is hardly a surprise despite the year-long public relations spectacle.

Analysts have predicted that a city near D.C. was the frontrunner since May. Then, last week, the New York Times reported that Amazon would split its second headquarters between Crystal City, a southwest neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, the closest Queens neighborhood to Manhattan.

Long Island City offers Amazon what many other areas can’t: the opportunity to create a company town. Few other neighborhoods in North America can absorb an influx of 25,000 well-paid tech workers coming to the area, which is largely because Long Island City has an oversupply in both residential and office stock. In Crystal City, Amazon will be able to tap an educated workforce with strong public transit. Landlord JBG Smith, a former Vornado spinoff, owns a large swath of the office space in the neighborhood, and could offer Amazon its choice of buildings.

The search for the site of HQ2 garnered criticism among the public and city officials across the country for Amazon’s request for tax breaks, despite it having hit a valuation over $1 trillion in September. On Friday, TRD reported that it could receive nearly $1 billion in tax breaks of-right in Long Island City, thanks to a program designed to encourage businesses to open in the outer boroughs and Northern Manhattan.

Though cities and economic development agencies were required to sign non-disclosure agreements keeping the offerings a secret, a court ruling forced Newark, New Jersey to disclose its package of tax sweeteners. And it was stunning: about $1 billion worth of incentives, part of a $7 billion package the state was prepared to hand over to Jeff Bezos. All for a company that briefly eclipsed a $1 trillion valuation in September. One anonymous group compared the battle for HQ2 as a “Hunger Games”-style death match.

The internal team responsible for developing and managing Amazon’s corporate offices is shockingly small. That’s particularly true considering Amazon occupies 19 percent of Seattle’s office stock alone, and is led by real estate chief John Schoettler, a source with knowledge of the company’s real estate teams told TRD in May. Schoettler’s entire team, which manages the company’s warehouses and retail properties, numbers fewer than 100, the source said.