Where should Amazon put its HQ? Overtown, Miami leaders say

"It has to be in an urban setting. The only place is Overtown:" Mayor Tomas Regalado

Overtown and from left, Keon Hardemon, Tomas Regalado and Jeff Bezos
Overtown and from left, Keon Hardemon, Tomas Regalado and Jeff Bezos

The local competition for Amazon’s second headquarters is intensifying. City of Miami elected officials floated the possibility of Overtown vying for the tech giant’s new central site that could ultimately encompass up to 8 million square feet.

“The one place I automatically think about is the Overtown community,” said Miami City Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon. Mayor Tomas Regalado echoed Hardemon, citing requirements in Amazon’s request for proposal that the second headquarters site be located in a major metropolitan area with a population of more than 1 million people, in close proximity of mass transit, and within 45 minutes of an airport. “It has to be in an urban setting,” Regalado said. “The only place is Overtown.”

Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell initiated discussion about Amazon’s second campus by proposing a resolution that would direct the city’s administration to work closely with the Beacon Council, an economic development organization, on a proposal to establish the second headquarters in Miami-Dade. “They would come here with 50,000 jobs,” Russell said. “That is 10 percent of the population. This has transformative potential for the city of Miami.”

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The commission unanimously approved the resolution. Last week, Kelly Smallridge, who heads the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, announced the county would submit a proposal for Amazon, which will be fielding proposals from dozens of local jurisdictions across the U.S. Palm Beach would have the edge in Amazon’s requirement that its new HQ have access to tech workers. Carrier Corp, IBM, the Scripps Research Institute call Palm Beach home.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, the economic development agency in Broward County, is also formulating a proposal, as is the city of Doral, where Codina Partners’ Downtown Doral is proposing a site.

Amazon set an Oct. 19 deadline for proposals. The company needs between 500,000 to 1 million square feet for phase one of its second HQ plans. It would be completed by 2019 and Amazon is willing to consider greenfield sites, or undeveloped land used for agriculture, infill sites, existing buildings, or a combination for the project.