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Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Where Should Amazon's Headquarters Go?

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Where Should Amazon's Headquarters Go?

With a history in housing healthcare facilities, life science labs, and emerging technology companies, Massachusetts is no stranger to innovation. Recently, world technology giant Amazon unveiled plans to build its second headquarters outside of Seattle, Washington. Amazon announced its plans on September 7, 2017, and it will continue accepting proposals through October 19 of this year.

The e-commerce retailer is extending its headquarters search through North America. In the United States, several major cities, including Boston, have entered the race to house Amazon's headquarters. But, if Amazon was to choose Boston as its headquarters location, where would the company go? The company's preliminary requirements include at least 500,000 SF of buildout space, direct access to transportation centers, proximity to an international airport, and a location near top colleges and universities. Fortunately, Boston can meet those requirements. But with Boston's neighborhoods all looking to add prestige to their names and lure the city's population and businesses, there may be some stiff competition in the bidding market. Before placing bids, developers will also have to keep in mind future considerations, like the fact that Amazon may want to expand its headquarters to 8 million SF. To put that in perspective, Amazon's new headquarters would ultimately surpass the total size of the latest campus headquarters that General Electric Co. is building by about 20 times. The initial Amazon headquarters construction is expected to cost about $5 billion. If it was to expand to be the size of General Electric Co.'s new head building, the project could end up costing closer to $20 million.

Around Boston, several areas are being considered for Amazon's placement. Suffolk Downs, with a considerable amount of available open space, is a top candidate. Other potential locations are urban infills just outside of Boston with plenty of building space and access to the city's commuter rail. Another alternative is to pick a less expansive ground area and build vertically. That tactic would open the door for construction in many other areas around Boston, including some cheaper locations.

In Massachusetts, state and local officials are planning to put together a bid to lure Amazon to Boston. They plan to use a modified version of the bid that successfully enticed General Electric into the area. Several areas outside of Boston, including Pioneer Valley, have indicated that they are also preparing bids to attract Amazon.

In addition to Boston, several other cities across the United States are planning proposals to get Amazon's attention. In the Midwest, Boston faces competition from Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chicago officials have already spoken with Jeff Bezos, who is the CEO of Amazon, about the tech conglomerate's possible move into town. Chicago is now the home of several other major corporations, including Kraft Heinz, McDonald's, and Conagra. In Minneapolis, city and regional planners are developing a bid for an Amazon headquarters in the Twin Cities. Nonprofits in the city are also participating in the decision.

Across country lines, the city of Toronto, Ontario is formulating a bid to bring Amazon into Canada. Mayor John Tory of Ontario has not elaborated on bidding plans, but he has said that he will speak with other Canadian government leaders to determine whether or not Ontario would be the best location in Canada for Amazon.

On the West Coast, cities beyond Seattle are looking to bring in Amazon too. San Diego, California is one such place. The city cites proximity to large global markets as a key benefit for Amazon. It also features a good quality of life and work/life balance that Amazon values. In the south, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas is also putting its hat in the ring. Denver, Colorado is working with partners at the state and regional levels to make a perfect proposal. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hopes Amazon falls for its large pool of talent and large parcels ripe for headquarters-sized development. Baltimore, Maryland is another prospect.

With competition growing, Boston's residents are weighing in to help the city choose the perfect spot for the tech company.