Experts: Crystal City emerging as possible landing site for Amazon HQ2

- Could Crystal City become the home to Amazon’s second headquarters? The experts say yes. Speculation is buzzing among insiders and experts that Crystal City has what it takes to edge out the competition.

Experts say the Arlington, Virginia neighborhood already has the infrastructure and it checks off most of Amazon’s checklist – it’s in a good location, it has access to transportation and it has a highly-educated workforce.

Cities across the country all tried and failed to woo Amazon. In the end, only 20 cities made the short list for the online retailer’s massive new headquarters, including Northern Virginia – and experts say Crystal City has all the makings to win the bid.

Amy Liu with the Brookings Institution says there are a number of reasons why Crystal City an attractive choice. It is close to Washington D.C., Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. It has its own metro station and is close to other regional train stations, and most of the buildings are owned by the same developer, JBG Smith.

The $5 billion investment would bring 50,000 high-paying jobs to Arlington County, giving the area a big boost. Since 9/11, Crystal City has had a high office vacancy rate, which still sits at a staggering 18 percent.

“Crystal City is in the midst of a major transformation, post-BRACC, from a former government hub, says Liu, the vice president of Brookings Institute and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program. “Amazon has an opportunity to come into Crystal City and do what it did in Seattle, which is to take an underserved site and reimagine it as a tech community for the future.”

Liu says it’s still unclear what kind of deal will be struck to get Amazon here. She says it is not just about landing HQ2, but also about what our local leaders are going to do to invest in the community so the benefits of Amazon stay here, especially since Amazon has been criticized in the past for not being a good community partner.

“The biggest concern that people have about Amazon is how much taxpayer subsidies will go to the company, says Liu. “Already, Maryland has offered up to $5 billion in subsidies to bring the company here – $5 billion worth of subsidies I think many of us can’t afford.”

There is already a major effort underway to breathe new life into Crystal City and make it a destination – with or without Amazon.

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