The company announced it will split its second headquarters project, which it calls HQ2, in two. The winning locations — the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, and the National Landing area of Arlington, Virginia — will each get roughly half of the 50,000 employees promised, and a portion of the investment.
The official announcement follows a November 5 report from The New York Times that named these two locations as the choices for HQ2, noting that a deal was close to being completed. That report followed a Wall Street Journal story that said Amazon was considering splitting the headquarters in two.
Now that HQ2 is official, the furious speculation from the last year can now be put to rest, and Amazon will likely now get to work planning its new headquarters. It has said that it hopes to have at least part of the new campus operational sometime in 2019.
The process, which was worked on in secret, will now face public scrutiny for first time, as city and state officials who worked with Amazon on it were bound by strict non-disclosure agreements. The tax incentive packages offered by New York and Virginia will especially be scrutinized.
The saga of HQ2 began in September 2017, when the company put out its official request for proposals.
In the request, Amazon promised 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment to the new host city. Nearly every major metro area in the US threw its hat in the ring. Amazon now has data on a huge number of American cities because of this process.
Amazon had whittled the list down to 20 locations by December but had barely made a peep about the selection process otherwise.
Selecting two cities is something of a curveball because it was not originally part of the plan that Amazon had proposed for HQ2. A small note at the bottom of Amazon’s RFP does hint that it was possibility, however.
“Amazon may select one or more proposals and negotiate with the parties submitting such proposals before making an award decision, or it may select no proposals and enter into no agreement,” the last line of the RFP reads.
The evidence had long been pointing toward the Washington, DC, metro area, which had submitted three separate regions for consideration. Amazon joined DC’s chamber of commerce in August. Add to that the fact that Amazon has already had its public-policy and lobbying operations in the district, and the US capital seemed like a shoo-in.
In recent months, the betting odds had quite literally zeroed in on Northern Virginia. The region is in what has been referred to as the “bull’s-eye of America’s internet,” adding to its chances. A local news site, ARLnow.com, said it had seen an unusual spike in traffic from Amazon to an article from December titled “County Wins Top Environmental Award from US Green Building Council,” which explained how Virginia’s Arlington County was the first in the US to be selected for an environmental award.
There had been less speculation about New York City, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently made his desire to host Amazon clear.
“I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” Cuomo told reporters on November . “Because it would be a great economic boost.”