Editor’s note: Amazon announced Thursday that it had dropped New York City as a location for one of its new headquarters, and that it didn’t plan to reopen its search. The story below was originally published a week before the decision.
Following a report that Amazon was rethinking its plan to locate a new headquarters in New York City, the developers of Port Covington in South Baltimore dusted off their rejected proposal to the online retailing giant.
“In light of the recent news that Amazon may be reconsidering its HQ2 plans, we have already reached out to Amazon and plan to resubmit our Port Covington proposal directly to Mr. Bezos,” Marc Weller, president and founding partner of Weller Development Co., said in a statement.
Weller is handling the development of the 260-acre peninsula that is already slated to be headquarters to the Baltimore-based sports apparel company Under Armour, The Baltimore Sun and, in another couple of years, a collection of cyber-security related firms.
“We continue to believe that Baltimore, with its exceptional regional tech-ready workforce and prime campus location of Port Covington, is a perfect fit for Amazon’s needs now, and in the future,” Weller said. “Unlike other potential locations, Port Covington offers shovel-ready waterfront land for Amazon to build its next campus adjacent to I-95, with ready access to international airports, rail, ports and other distribution points. Having Amazon’s headquarters at Port Covington would foster tremendous economic growth for the city and its workforce.”
The news about Amazon, reported by The Washington Post and attributed to two unnamed sources, came out Friday and set off the move in Baltimore to ask for another chance from Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and CEO.
There isn’t any indication that Amazon is looking back to the list of 238 cities that formally applied for the second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, during a very public process that drew some eye-popping incentive offers to land the promised 50,000 high-paying jobs and immense economic spinoff.
Seattle-based Amazon said in November that it had picked both New York and Northern Virginia.
Since the announcement, Virginia moved quickly to approve its incentive package and seal the deal with Amazon. But New York’s was not expected until 2020, the Post story said. A host of politicians and community leaders there have come out against the company’s move, believing it would be a burden, raising rents, pushing out local residents and overwhelming the region. Some also oppose subsidizing the world’s most valuable public company.
Baltimore’s bid, offered directly by the developers, was kept private during the bidding process. The city later revealed that it had not offered any incentive money beyond the existing Port Covington tax increment financing deal, which is valued at $660 million. The $5.5 billion project is slated to include not only offices, but a series of retail, hotel and apartment buildings on the city’s southern waterfront.
But the city didn’t make the short list of 20 jurisdictions, and was the only major East Coast city to bid and not make the first cut. Developers and local leaders said they believe it could have been because Amazon officials didn’t believe there was a deep enough pool of workers with necessary tech skills. Insufficient public transportation also could have been a factor, they said.
In Maryland, sites in Howard and Prince George’s counties also were rejected. A site in Montgomery County made it past the first cut, and Gov. Larry Hogan then promised $5 billion in incentives for Amazon if it moved there.
Amazon has found the Baltimore region a good place to open fulfillment centers, meeting the demands of consumers for quick delivery.
But might Amazon abandon New York and take another look at a city so far down its list, a city less than 50 miles from its anticipated Northern Virginia headquarters? Weller won’t pass up the opportunity to find out.