Amazon is planning to split its second headquarters evenly between two cities, people familiar with the matter said Monday, in a twist to a more than year-long contest that has drawn overtures from locales across North America.
Long Island City, New York, Dallas, and Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., are all among the finalists with which Amazon is holding advanced talks, one of the people said on condition of anonymity. The person would not confirm which two are expected to win or if any others remain in the running.
Amazon declined to comment on the news, first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The world’s largest online retailer sparked a bidding frenzy in September 2017 when it announced it would invest more than $5 billion to create an “HQ2” in addition to its home base in Seattle and hire up to 50,000 people.
One of the major reasons for the decision was for Amazon, which has satellite operations around the world, to recruit top talent. Offering a choice of head offices could help it win new workers in a battle with Alphabet Inc’s Google and others, with which Amazon competes in areas such as cloud computing and voice-controlled technology.
“Amazon is going where it won’t have to jostle with Google and Facebook as much as it would in San Francisco or it does in Seattle,” said Alex Snyder, analyst at CenterSquare Investment Management near Philadelphia.
Amazon HQ2 could ‘set off a new wave of housing speculation’
The HQ2 split also could help Amazon ease the same degree of congestion and jump in costs of living that led to unrest in Seattle. An affordable housing crisis there prompted the city council to adopt a head tax on businesses in May, which Amazon helped overturn in a subsequent city council vote.
It was unclear what incentive packages were offered to Amazon. New Jersey early in the contest proposed $7 billion in potential credits against state and city taxes if Amazon located in Newark and stuck to hiring commitments.
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state was in talks with Amazon. “We have a great incentive package,” which was not “crazy” like other states’ offers, he said, according to audio from WCBS 880 Radio.
“I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” he said.
Should Long Island City be home for Amazon HQ2, it is “likely to set off a new wave of housing speculation in Queens, where sales prices have already risen 5 percent over last year,” said Grant Long, senior economist at StreetEasy. “The rental market on the eastern shore of the East River remains saturated with high-end inventory, and will likely be slower to adjust to the planned influx of workers, but this news will be welcome to landlords eager to fill those glass towers.”
Additionally, Long said less-dense nearby neighborhoods like Sunnyside, Astoria and Greenpoint “are likely to see some of the largest uptick in demand in the long run, should the reports prove true.”
Amazon possibly expanding its New York footprint with HQ2 in Long Island City would be part of a trend of larger companies setting up shop that “has pushed up wages broadly but unevenly, exacerbating a housing affordability crisis that has transformed neighborhoods and posed challenges for middle- and lower-income families through the city,” Long said.
“Nonetheless, the increase in hiring by Amazon — which is foremost a technology company, but also one with significant operations in a wide variety of fields, from transportation logistics to film and television production — could prove a boon for a broad swath of local workers,” he added.
Metro Staff Reporter Nikki M. Mascali contributed to this report.