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Does Philly have room for Amazon HQ2?

Mayor Kenney will ask Amazon to set up their new headquarters here.
(iStock)

Remember when Amazon was just an online bookstore?

Now the mega-corporation led by Jeff Bezos, which sells basically everything under the sun, owns huge brands in other markets, including the Washington Post and Whole Foods.

With all that under their belt, it looks like it's time to expand.

Amazon announced last week that they are looking for a home for their second corporate headquarters, and many boosters of the local business community are saying Bezos and Co. should be packing their bags for Philly.

"We think Philadelphia would be a PRIME location for Amazon that would make people SMILE!" Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted. "Look forward to submitting a proposal!"

Kenney's got good reason to be supportive. HQ2 is an estimated $5 billion project that some say could bring as many as 50,000 jobs to Philadelphia, including executive positions. In their current hometown of Seattle, Amazon estimates they added some $38 billion to the city’s economy between 2010 and 2016.

Curbed Philly rounded up the top nine possible locations for Amazon’s second HQ. They include the former life insurance company at 48th and Market, which the city rehabbed to the tune of $50 million with the intent of turning it into the police department’s new headquarters. That plan was scrapped, and the building’s future remains uncertain. 

Other possible locations included developing office areas in Grays Ferry, the Schuylkill Yards, near 30th Street Station and the Navy Yard.

Amazon has some demands for its next home: proximity to colleges, good public transportation and a population over 1 million. Check, check and check, Philly. 

Based on raw demographics, The New York Times ruled Philly out and found that Denver, Colorado, would be the best city for Amazon to move to. 

Writing for Forbes, Adam Ozimek argued that raw demographics don’t tell the whole story. He said Philly’s construction and jobs boom since 2008 give it a momentum few other cities possess. 

But Daily News columnist Will Bunch harshly criticized the proposal, saying Amazon would "screw Philly schoolkids" and "ruin Tinder," citing a blog post by a love-lorn Seattle woman who wrote after dating numerous Amazon employees that the company was "killing my sex life." He added that the company's presence could contribute to gentrification.

"In Philadelphia, gentrification and rising rent and home prices have certainly been an issue, but nothing like what they’ve seen in places such as Seattle or San Francisco," Bunch wrote. "Amazon would change that equation in Philadelphia – and not for good."

Green Philly Blog, which promotes local environmental businesses and efforts, tweeted back at Kenney that Amazon is a bad idea for Philly: "Rather than promote a global company that kills local jobs, shouldn't we promote shopping at local Philly biz?" they wrote. "We vote no Amazon here."

Proposals are due Oct. 19, and a decision will be made in 2018.