Now that the New York deal is dead on arrival, Amazon’s only “HQ2” will be built in Northern Virginia, where the company faces a warmer reception than it did in Queens.
The deal Arlington County used to lure Amazon’s ballyhooed second headquarters was published Tuesday and first reported by The Washington Post. It makes Amazon eligible for up to $23 million in tax incentives — part of a larger $573 million incentive package promised in exchange for the 25,000-person office.
The deal doesn’t ask for much in return other than setting a minimum amount of office space Amazon must occupy each year.
Rather than demanding funding for affordable housing or setting wage requirements for construction labor, as activists hoped, Arlington County is offering a big concession to Amazon. When journalists or citizens make public records requests for information on Amazon from Arlington County, the company will be given at least two days notice to “take such steps as it deems appropriate.” That’s a big win for a company famous for playing its cards close to the vest.
Under the deal, Amazon is eligible for a share of Arlington County’s hotel tax revenue, which is expected to go up after the e-commerce giant comes to town. Amazon will receive 15 percent of any increase in Arlington’s Transient Occupancy Tax if the company moves into a specified amount of office space each year.
Amazon will need to occupy 64,000 square feet by July 2020 and the amount increases each year from there to a total of 6 million square feet in 2035. That would make Amazon’s Northern Virginia campus about half the size of its Seattle headquarters. The incentive payments will last 15 years, according to the agreement.
The Arlington County Board will vote on the agreement on March 16.
Last November, Amazon announced it would split its 50,000-person second headquarters between Northern Virginia and New York City, with each receiving half of the promised jobs. Faced with vocal opposition from some officials and activists in New York, Amazon canceled its plans there in January.
That leaves the D.C. suburb that’s being rebranded as “National Landing” as Amazon’s only “HQ2.” The company says the jobs planned for New York will be distributed across its existing offices.
Last month, GeekWire traveled to the Washington D.C. area and sat down with Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development who helped lead the HQ2 bid for Northern Virginia.
Hoskins said that historically, Arlington and Virginia as a state have not given out many incentives to large companies.
“We felt it was fair to put out a welcome mat, but we weren’t going to be writing a check as a competition,” he added.
The interview with Hoskins took place just days before Amazon decided to pull out of New York. Asked if Arlington has room for more than 25,000 Amazon workers, Hoskins said the agreement with Amazon already includes an option to create as many as 37,850 jobs by 2034.
“We can easily accommodate both of those numbers,” he said, adding that “we already have capacity for up to 14 million square feet of office space and they’re only looking for four to six million.”
Here’s the full text of the document published Tuesday:
DRAFT Amazon Performance Agreement Posted 03-05-2019 by Todd Bishop on Scribd
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