Timoric

Amazon HQ2

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Wouldn't it be awesome if Amazon chooses Houston for its new second city location with 50,000 employees and $5B investment that WSJ just flashed on my iPhone?

 

Wouldn't it suck if they chose Dallas (:. 

 

Seems like there would be a chance it would be Texas and to me, highly likely Dallas could win it but wish Houston could.

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4 hours ago, Timoric said:

Wouldn't it be awesome if Amazon chooses Houston for its new second city location with 50,000 employees and $5B investment that WSJ just flashed on my iPhone?

 

Wouldn't it suck if they chose Dallas (:. 

 

Seems like there would be a chance it would be Texas and to me, highly likely Dallas could win it but wish Houston could.

 

We don't have much of an existing talent pool for something like Amazon, but the decision will probably be more political and image-based than anything, given that it is the tech industry. Getting flooded and all the national attention for our diversity has helped Houston's image more than anything since the Apollo missions, so here's hoping.

 

Yeah, it did occur to me that if one of our in-state rivals gets it, that would be a setback for us. Austin being the birthplace of Whole Foods is an obvious draw.

 

Edited by H-Town Man
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4 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

We don't have much of an existing talent pool for something like Amazon, but the decision will probably be more political and image-based than anything, given that it is the tech industry. Getting flooded and all the national attention for our diversity has helped Houston's image more than anything since the Apollo missions, so here's hoping.

 

Yeah, it did occur to me that if one of our in-state rivals gets it, that would be a setback for us. Austin being the birthplace of Whole Foods is an obvious draw.

 

 

My first thought was the same... that we may fall short (or at least be perceived to fall short) in the tech talent pool.   But today's Amazon is much more than a pure high-tech operation.  They have huge transportation & logistics, inventory, supply chain, networks, engineering, and construction operations and needs, all areas in which Houston is strong.

 

We need to go strong for this.  I'm thinking maybe the former Exxon tower and surrounding blocks.

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Apparently they already have a regional office in Dallas, and Dallas is on a hitting streak for corporate back-office locations (what I think this essentially is, despite the "second HQ" branding) to rival Dimaggio. The fact that Jeff Bezos spent part of his childhood in Houston could be a wildcard.

 

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Mods may need to peel off this subthread into a new thread for HQ2.   But, with the degree of prior need in our city for infrastructure improvements, gearing infrastructure for other "nice to haves" like HQ2 is probably a real non-starter unless a direct "Olympics-style case" can be made for how the two projects are intertwined.  Anyway, Seattle is overdue for tectonic slippage, and it's highly likely they're low-key not really looking to build their headquarters redundancy in a place that's vulnerable to anything with devastation longer-lasting than a blizzard.

Edited by strickn

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Amazon is looking for a site for their second campus. Criteria are >100 acres, cities with diverse populations greater than 1M, high quality universities and highly educated populace, business friendly political climate and access to international airports within 45 minutes. 

 

Check, check, check and check. 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/technology/amazon-headquarters-north-america.html

 

Would be awesome for this part of town. 

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True enough.

 

Any one of the above East End streetcar routes could be essentially funded entirely out of Amazon allowances for worker transit benefits. They paid something like $43M into Seattles public transit system in worker benefits. 

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They should just build a 102 story building downtown; there's the light rail downtown, which would check off their mass transit need

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1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

I would support putting the relevant comments into a new "Amazon HQ2" thread. Mods?

 

Done. 

 

Wouldn't Austin be as likely a candidate as Dallas or Houston?  Large tech workforce, and it is already the headquarters of Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon.

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4 minutes ago, Subdude said:

Done. 

 

Wouldn't Austin be as likely a candidate as Dallas or Houston?  Large tech workforce, and it is already the headquarters of Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon.

 

Absolutely, perhaps much more so. The hope for Houston or Dallas is based on the theory that they want something very non-Seattle, i.e. low-cost, easy to expand, and nothing to fear from an activist city government, as they are apparently dealing with in Seattle.

 

https://www.geekwire.com/2017/never-late-say-sorry-seattle-leaders-respond-amazon-plans-establish-second-hq-outside-hometown/

 

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We are going to have some trouble with lists like this. Of course 28% of 7 million is quite a lot, but the percentage matters in overall perception of a culture. I think we have climbed to 31% by 2015; not sure if that is the result of an overall rising tide of education in the U.S. (in which case we won't have gained anything on our rivals) or workers brought in during the oil boom.

 

The 33% mark would be a nice psychological barrier to get past. Too bad we chased off a big data center investment from UT.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/05/31/us/education-in-metro-areas.html

Edited by H-Town Man

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The KBR site is adjacent to a couple bus routes:

 

http://www.ridemetro.org/MetroPDFs/Schedules/SystemMaps/unused/METRO-System-Map.pdf

 

I believe it would have some utilities, but would not be "pad ready" as per the RFP.  However, it meets the preference for a 100 acre plus greenfield nearby existing structures with 500,000 square feet of office (I think the current BoA building has that space).  A city proposal to produce a viable bikepath connector to the site would be more attractive.  How'd this site fare with Harvey? 

 

 

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Houston is not listed as one of the cities about their interest (the first of many places expected to consider submitting proposals). Maybe someone familiar with the Council District B Member, JERRY DAVIS and the mayor could inform them of the potential.

Edited by WakeUpHouston
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Given the flooding and subsequent logistics issues, I think that might scare Amazon away. I'd rather see them an hour and a half away from Houston in a growing college-centered town in need of higher-paying jobs and better opportunities. *coughs conspicuously*

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My two cents:

 

Houston is a strong contender. It's the most similar city to Seattle that can also offer lower business costs. Both are sea-port cities, Both are aerospace cities, Both have an urban core, heck, they both get a lot of rain.

 

Possible cons:

Tech talent available in Houston. We don't have as much compared to Austin or Boston for example. But we can argue it in our favor too.

Yes Austin or Boston may have more tech talent, but that also means they are easily poachable by Dell in Austin or GE in Boston. This is a problem Amazon currently faces in Seattle with Microsoft.

Also, Amazon as just a tech company is not true anymore. They are really a conglomerate and want to get into pretty much everything. One rumor is that Amazon wants to massively increase their healthcare business. Houston would be a great location for that.

 

Another Con is Houston's national Image:

Houston has an image problem. The recent floods complicate the marketing challenge. But again, we can argue it the other way too. Yes, there were bad floods but look how we all came together to assist one another. 

 

Should the city finance a proposal and incentive package?

Absolutely. This could be a once in a generation opportunity for Houston. An opportunity to diversify and grow an new market in Houston for our future is very rare. 

 

Which part of Houston is best for HQ2? I would think Downtown. Our downtown is a great commuter bus hub to bring in workers everyday. There's plenty of available office space and space to build new construction. You could also make a case for Midtown, but access to public to transportation is not that good in midtown, same goes foe EaDo.

 

What do ya'll think?  

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26 minutes ago, WakeUpHouston said:


Houston is not listed as one of the cities about their interest (the first of many places expected to consider submitting proposals). Maybe someone familiar with the Council District B Member, JERRY DAVIS and the mayor could inform them of the potential.

I just noticed the same thing.  once again, the MSM likes to use the whole "dallas" propaganda to influence them to choose that city versus a much lower cost, friendlier, progressive and forward thinking truly American and Texas DIVERSE city like Houston or even Austin.  But, as far as Texas goes, HOUSTON would win hands down with all we have to offer Amazon !

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Would 800 Bell be big enough? It's ready for gutting, and is one of the 5 largest buildings Downtown. Although, I suspect Amazon is looking for a non-highrise solution where they can build open space with high ceilings and lots of flexibility.

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In close reading the RFP, it indicates "a strong university system is required."  Rice is top notch and UH is solid, but I wonder what kind of numbers will be needed. Will regional schools such as A&M and UT count for those purposes?

 

Turning to practical concerns as to the site, I've thought about 800 Bell as well. There are some undeveloped parcels nearby that could be developed into a campus.  There are additional sites in Midtown that might be used down the light rail to provide enough space for a full 8 million square foot campus of sorts.

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I was at a bar across the street from this site last Sunday. There was no flooding in the area- the main part of the site sits high above the bayou.

The New Potato. It's like the only thing out there, looks like a rural bar with a semi-close view of downtown

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I emailed the mayor to tell him that this would be huge for Houston. I don't think he will listen to me, but if all of us tell him, maybe he will listen!

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They want 500,000 square feet to start.  800 Bell is plenty big for that -- the refurbished 800 Bell is slated to have 1.4 Million square feet.  The contiguous empty and near-empty blocks surrounding 800 Bell are plenty of land on which to develop an additional 6.6 million square feet of space without going all that tall and keeping some of the existing buildings (which may appeal to Amazon).  

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I'm just thinking outside the box, but what about GRB as a location? 

Could the city lease the space to Amazon? Would the city want to? What would the city lose? I guess conventions, but they could temporarily be relocated to Reliant, and if deal is profitable then the city could just build a newer better convention hall in the future. 

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5 hours ago, pablog said:

I emailed the mayor to tell him that this would be huge for Houston. I don't think he will listen to me, but if all of us tell him, maybe he will listen!

I don't think it's a coincidence the mayor immediately announced Houston is open for business a couple days after the storm.  

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One Shell Plaza? Shell's vacancy is putting a million square of primo class-A space on the market. Good access to mass transit. Lots of parks and amenities. And walking distance to city hall which will make future bribes very convenient.

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8 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:

I'm just thinking outside the box, but what about GRB as a location? 

Could the city lease the space to Amazon? Would the city want to? What would the city lose? I guess conventions, but they could temporarily be relocated to Reliant, and if deal is profitable then the city could just build a newer better convention hall in the future. 

Not really suitable for offices, and it's too valuable as a convention space, especially with taxpayer subsidized hotels that were built to support the GRB.

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Houston could land Amazon's second headquarters

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/texanomics/article/Houston-has-what-Amazon-needs-but-maybe-not-all-12179972.php

 

Usually, companies are relatively quiet about playing states and cities off each other to get the largest package of tax breaks and incentives. Not so with Amazon, which Thursday morning issued a public request for proposalinviting jurisdictions to submit bids for its second headquarters, including the amount of cash they'd be willing to pony up. 

"The initial cost and ongoing cost of doing business are critical decision drivers," the RFP reads. 

 

It's economic development as Olympic games: Interested cities decide how much money they want to spend for the privilege of attracting a lot of attention and new jobs. That way, the company has the maximum number of contestants to bid up the price. 

Of course, Houston will want to play this game. And it definitely has a shot at winning. 

 

"The city is very interested," said Alan Bernstein, spokesman for Houston mayor Sylvester Turner. "The city is checking on the procedures for officially being considered, and the city is excited and feels like it's well positioned for a number of reasons."

First of all, the economic development research shows that tax breaks are almost never the determining factor in a city's location decision. The chosen city will have to check all of Amazon's boxes before adding any incentives on top. Those are: 

  • Real estate. Houston has plenty of this — more than it needs at the moment, with contraction in the energy industry. Whole blocks of downtown are still either empty or underutilized, ripe for the kind of development that Amazon has embarked upon at its current headquarters in downtown Seattle. 
  • Labor force. Houston has plenty of people, and enough universities either locally or near by to feed its demand for software engineers, if computer science programs were significantly ramped up. It also has lots of expertise in shipping and logistics, which is a lot of what Amazon does these days. 
  • Connectivity. Amazon wants easy access to major highways and airports with direct flights to cities all over the country, which Houston has, along with a major port and rail lines. Traffic may be a problem, but that's probably true in most major cities under consideration. 
  • "Cultural community fit." Amazon defines this as diversity, a stable business environment, and government entities eager to work with large companies. Check, check, and check — especially the last part, which local officials have already demonstrated through handing out tax breaks for Amazon's two new distribution centers in the area. 
  • "Community/quality of life." This is something that Houston has been working on hard for the past decade, building parks and beautifying neighborhoods, recognizing that many companies view it as essential to attract today's workforce. It may not be able to match Seattle yet, but it's moving in the right direction. 

In addition, Houston is close to Austin, which is too small for Amazon's requirements, but does have a wealth of technical talent and also the headquarters of Whole Foods, which Amazon now owns. Houston still has a housing cost advantage over many other large cities — while Seattle is showing the strain of accommodating Amazon's more than 40,000 workers, there's considerable room for dense housing construction in areas near downtown Houston. 

 

Another criterion that Amazon puts high on its list: Sustainability. Bringing in Amazon, with its Pacific Northwesty ways, could be a catalyst for Houston to develop in a more resilient fashion — especially in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which tested the city's infrastructure to its limits. Amazon will probably want to see continued investment in mass transit and a commitment to clean energy that the city hasn't yet totally demonstrated

 

Now, there are all kinds of concerns about the value of Amazon to the nation and the world as it continues on its march to dominate retail, which may already be claiming jobs in the Houston area. But there's little doubt that Amazon would be a valuable asset for Houston, which has struggled to build a tech scene within a corporate culture still dominated by oil and gas. 

 

The question is, how much should Houston offer the mega-corporation to lure it in? 

 

It's frustrating, because Amazon clearly doesn't need the money — while the company is still not turning much of a profit, that's only because it's investing heavily in building market power by entering new shopping categories, such as groceries. Its shareholders' remarkable

permissiveness, as well as taxpayer subsidies of nearly a billion dollars since 2005, have made CEO Jeff Bezos one of the world's richest people

Realistically, Houston — and Texas, with its bag of business attraction goodies — may need to make an effort. But it should have the self-confidence to recognize its natural advantages should be sufficient. 

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1 hour ago, Ross said:

Not really suitable for offices, and it's too valuable as a convention space, especially with taxpayer subsidized hotels that were built to support the GRB.

 

You might be right regarding it just being too valuable to give up. However I'm not convinced Amazon wants a bland office building like Shell Plaza or 800 Bell. Are there any big tech companies occupying tall buildings right now in the US? Seems like they prefer wide open spaces not tall and narrow. I think their typical worker would prefer space for ping pong tables. 

 

Hopefully Shell Plaza and 800 Bell is not the best Houston can offer. 

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11 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

You might be right regarding it just being too valuable to give up. However I'm not convinced Amazon wants a bland office building like Shell Plaza or 800 Bell. Are there any big tech companies occupying tall buildings right now in the US? Seems like they prefer wide open spaces not tall and narrow. I think their typical worker would prefer space for ping pong tables. 

 

Yes.   Amazon. 

Edited by Houston19514
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16 hours ago, Pitts said:

One Shell Plaza? Shell's vacancy is putting a million square of primo class-A space on the market. Good access to mass transit. Lots of parks and amenities. And walking distance to city hall which will make future bribes very convenient.

 

Pretty sure there is not a million square feet available in One Shell Plaza.  I doubt they even have the 500,000 square feet Amazon wants on day one.  Even if there was a million square feet available, where would they put the other 7 million square feet of space they want?

Edited by Houston19514

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While, I certainly would love to see Amazon select Houston, I think that the ridiculous political climate in Austin will prevent Amazon from selecting any Texas city. The Government's obsured attemp at  "Bathroom Bills" and attacks on the LGBTQ community and never ending assault on Female Reproductive rights certainly will be seen as a misfit for the inclusive, 0progressuve culture at Amazon. Additionally, the repeal of HERO, will also be considered.   These things matter and I hope that Amazon makes it clear that Texas is not actually as business friendly as it thinks it is.  Please, Amazon...let it be known. 

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2 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Yes.   Amazon. 

 

That's true,  Amazon Tower I and II are both 37 stories. I guess that is tall for Seattle. The rest of their dozen or so buildings are not that tall though. 

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8 hours ago, Naviguessor said:

Texas is not actually as business friendly as it thinks it is.  Please, Amazon...let it be known. 

Yeah, let's have a political "feel good" moment and forget about all the jobs that Houstonians might otherwise have. 

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On 9/8/2017 at 0:56 PM, 102IAHexpress said:

My two cents:

 

Houston is a strong contender. It's the most similar city to Seattle that can also offer lower business costs. Both are sea-port cities, Both are aerospace cities, Both have an urban core, heck, they both get a lot of rain.

 

Possible cons:

Tech talent available in Houston. We don't have as much compared to Austin or Boston for example. But we can argue it in our favor too.

Yes Austin or Boston may have more tech talent, but that also means they are easily poachable by Dell in Austin or GE in Boston. This is a problem Amazon currently faces in Seattle with Microsoft.

Also, Amazon as just a tech company is not true anymore. They are really a conglomerate and want to get into pretty much everything. One rumor is that Amazon wants to massively increase their healthcare business. Houston would be a great location for that.

 

Another Con is Houston's national Image:

Houston has an image problem. The recent floods complicate the marketing challenge. But again, we can argue it the other way too. Yes, there were bad floods but look how we all came together to assist one another. 

 

Should the city finance a proposal and incentive package?

Absolutely. This could be a once in a generation opportunity for Houston. An opportunity to diversify and grow an new market in Houston for our future is very rare. 

 

Which part of Houston is best for HQ2? I would think Downtown. Our downtown is a great commuter bus hub to bring in workers everyday. There's plenty of available office space and space to build new construction. You could also make a case for Midtown, but access to public to transportation is not that good in midtown, same goes foe EaDo.

 

What do ya'll think?  

 

I agree downtown would be the ideal location for Amazon.  There would be alot more people living in downtown and there is still alot of space available for a project of this magnitiude.  Houston officials should be getting a proposal set up to pitch to Amazon.  

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8 minutes ago, htownbro said:

According to this website,  here are the potential cities.

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-hq2-cities-location-choices-new-second-headquarters/

 

Like a lot of the articles being written about the Amazon HQ2 search, this is pretty much a waste of time.  Interesting factoids, but I suspect Amazon is more interested in the number of talented qualified educated potential employees, not so much in the percentage.  Houston is at 30.4% with bachelors degrees.  30.4% of 7 million in Houston gives them a much larger talent pool than 35.8% of 2.1 million people in Kansas City (just a random example from the CBS list). One presumes Amazon will conduct a more nuanced analysis of cities than CBS.

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35 minutes ago, htownbro said:

According to this website,  here are the potential cities.

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-hq2-cities-location-choices-new-second-headquarters/

 

There's been several articles like this. They are assuming Amazon will eliminate any metro areas where 33% of the workforce does not have a B.A. Houston is at 31.5% as of 2015. But I am skeptical it would be that simple, since due to the size of Houston's workforce, that's more people who have a B.A. than the entire workforce for many of the cities they list. The total number must be considered along with the percentage.

 

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I dont think they would rush a site with this much potential. If Amazon could provide a foundation on the west side of the property, they would have water access for loadout and all major Freeway connectors in a 2 mile stretch and all counter-flow. Its probably the most logistically efficient location in houston within Beltway 8. 

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25 minutes ago, Mr.Clean19 said:

I dont think they would rush a site with this much potential. If Amazon could provide a foundation on the west side of the property, they would have water access for loadout and all major Freeway connectors in a 2 mile stretch and all counter-flow. Its probably the most logistically efficient location in houston within Beltway 8. 

T.I.C. - Maybe Ellington Spaceport

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Elseed said:

Man it would suck if Dallas or Austin gets this.

I'd have no problem with Austin.  From a pride standpoint, it would indeed suck royally if Dallas got Amazon.  Professionally, it would bring more legal jobs to Texas and would probably provide a benefit to the other cities as well such that I should root for Texas cities over places in other states.  But, my pride is not rational. Duck Fallas. 

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It sure would be a boost for the high speed rail folks for Amazon to build on North Post Oak where they plan the rail station. 

 

Perhaps the best real chance of landing HQ2 in the Houston area would be Springwoods Village up in Spring--they already have ExxonMobil (not HQ, but 10k strong), HP, ABS, and Southwestern Energy.

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We're not getting Amazon and I am not bothered by that at all. Sure, it would be nice if they took up the old Exxon Building and filled in the surrounding blocks but it isn't happening unless we give them everything for free and promise not to be mean on taxes. Even then, they ain't coming to H-town. 

 

Just more corporate extortion. 

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Realistically, I don't see HQ2 coming to Houston. The competition will be great, other regions will offer huge incentives (including probably Chicago), we have the hurricane risk which has been poignantly publicized by Harvey, other regions will score better in the education category, other regions will score better in the mass transit category, other regions have more software developers in the workforce,  and other regions will have politics more suitable for Amazon.  And one more time: the hurricane and flooding risk!

 

That being said, it appears that the Greater Houston Partnership will submit a proposal. I don't see any sites in Houston that ideally meet Amazon's wishful wish list, although I don't think any city will have a perfect site.

 

Here is my analysis of the  official request for proposals

  • The site can be a greenfield suburban site up to 30 miles "proximity to population center", a collection downtown high-rises, or anything in between. For existing buildings, there must be space for expansion for the long term potential build-out. The document really does not give any preference to urban or suburban, but my interpretation is that they would like plenty of land to build exactly what they want.
  • Greenfield sites must be approximately 100 acres and "pad ready, with utility infrastructure in place". Also on page 5: "sites with the requisite access, utility infrastructure, and zoning are critical". This seems to preclude an all-new site starting from scratch, and would probably preclude the KBR site (or is it already ready for development?). A greenfield site would have to be an existing corporate park with plenty of land available.
  • The requirement is "Within approx 45" minutes from an international airport. It is unclear if this applies during rush hour. If so, for Bush airport that would seem to exclude anything south of downtown and Interstate 10.
  • The transit requirement is vague, just stating "Direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, bus routes". I read this to mean that bus routes alone could satisfy this requirement, and transit seems to be a lesser requirement. Even so, that could knock out many suburban campus sites.
  • Page 5 says "finding suitable buildings/sites is of paramount importance." The word "paramount" is the strongest adjective they use in the document, so that suggests to me that they want a signature office property. I'm thinking that a greenfield site to build an all-new campus in a close-in location may be most competitive.
  • Page 5: "A highly educated labor pool is critical and a strong university system is required". While Rice and UH are solid, many competing cities will score better than Houston.
  • The Cultural Community Fit section on page 5 once again emphasizes "excellent institutions of higher education". It also seems to emphasize a good pro-business climate rather than liberal government policies (e.g. Chicago, NYC). I view this as the most favorable requirement for cities like Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta.
  • Community/Quality of Life section on page 5: This is vague and seems to be not as important as press reports have suggested.
  • Page 2: "The jobs will likely be broken down into the following categories: executive/management, engineering with a preference for software development engineers (SDE), legal, accounting, and administrative." If this campus will cater more to the executive, legal, accounting and administrative needs, then being in a tech hub becomes much less important and being in a regional business hub (Chicago, Atlanta, DFW) makes more sense.
  • Observation: Nowhere in the document is there a mention of affordable housing, ability to construct new housing, or low-to-moderate cost of living. This of course is a quality of life issue, but does not seem worthy of specific mention. So that seems to work in favor of the high-cost locations (e.g. Boston, NYC)

While I view Houston as highly unlikely, DFW and Austin may be contenders. Las Colinas in Irving or the Texas Stadium redevelopment site come to mind as strong potential sites for DFW. The Texas Stadium site has 452 acres of land, including 77 owned by Irving which could be offered for free. It is on a light rail line, 7 miles to DFW airport, 5 miles to Love Field, a major freeway hub with expansion in progress, 7 miles to Uptown Dallas (urban living), and 7 miles to Oak Lawn (rainbow community). But I don't know if the infrastructure is ready yet. Nearby Las Colinas has plenty of shovel-ready sites, although I don't know if it still has 100 acres available.

 

A probable weakness for Texas will be lack of subsidies from the State of Texas due to Governor Abbott's distaste for corporate welfare. Of course, Governor Perry was just the opposite, throwing all kinds of money at incentives (and achieving many successes).

 

I'm also thinking that Amazon may already have preferred sites in mind and is running this competition to maximize the subsidies and incentives to be offered. I'm thinking most communities will be wasting their time with a proposal. I'm also thinking we many have 2 or 3 winners, since it would make more sense to create centers of excellence in logical locations. For example the software hub in Boston or Austin (in addition to Seattle), logistics in DFW or Atlanta, and business operations in any number of cities, probably the one with the best incentives (potentially Chicago).

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