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Amazon in ‘advanced talks’ to build headquarters near DC: Report

E-commerce giant is said to be looking at an area known as Crystal City

Retail giant Amazon Inc. is in “advanced talks” to open its second headquarters in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Images of Amazon's Seattle, Washington, campus, in both the downtown and South Lake Union neighborhoods. (JORDAN STEAD / Amazon)

Images of Amazon’s Seattle, Washington, campus, in both the downtown and South Lake Union neighborhoods. (JORDAN STEAD / Amazon)

Amazon, based in Seattle, is apparently seriously considering an area known as Crystal City. It’s a large residential and office complex in Arlington, Virginia, just south of Washington, the Post said, citing unidentified sources.

Amazon announced last year it was looking to open a second headquarters somewhere in North America, bringing with it as many as 50,000 new jobs. Several state and local governments threw their hats in the ring, offering Amazon millions in tax incentives if they opened their new headquarters in their city.

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Though Vancouver, Edmonton, Windsor and Hamilton submitted proposals to Amazon in the beginning stages of its search, Toronto is the only Canadian city to have made the shortlist.

The Washington metropolitan area was long considered a top contender for Amazon’s second headquarters. Company founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos already had several connections to the Washington area. He’s the owner of The Washington Post and owns a home in the area. When the company announced a list of 20 top contenders in January, it included both Washington as well as Montgomery County, Maryland, which is just north of D.C.

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Crystal City is served by a mass transit system and major highways, both qualifications that Amazon had said is required for its new headquarters as well.

Because Amazon is reportedly in “advanced talks” does not mean the deal is certain. Shortly after the Post published its story, Mike Grella, Amazon’s economic development director posted on Twitter, “Memo to the genius leaking info about Crystal City, VA as #HQ2 selection. You’re not doing Crystal City, VA any favours.”

An article published by The New York Times last summer said the bidding process had been kept tightly under wraps, with some officials from shortlisted cities claiming they were unaware of what tax credits or other financial incentives had been promised to Amazon.

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“I think the lack of transparency of this whole process is galling,” Richard Florida, a professor at the School of Cities and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, told The Times. “This has to be all out in the public. This is taxpayer money.” Florida sat on the board of directors for Toronto Global, the not-for-profit organization that coordinated Toronto’s bid. But, according to the article, he resigned this year so he could “raise concerns about the general lack of transparency in the bidding.”

While it continues to search for a home for its second headquarters, Amazon is preparing to open two fulfillment centres in Ontario: one in Caledon, just north west of Toronto, and one in Ottawa. Together, the centres will bring more than 1,400 jobs to the province.

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