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Could Atlanta win quest to land massive new Amazon headquarters?

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E-commerce behemoth announces plans for second (transit-connected) home base in the U.S., with up to 50K high-paying jobs

A rendering of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
A rendering of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters (with its green spheres), a $4-billion project under construction now.

E-commerce behemoth Amazon has a special delivery on Atlanta’s porch today: a big ol’ box of brain candy.

In a bombshell announcement this morning that’s sent economic-development types across America spinning in circles, Amazon said it’s looking for the perfect place to build a second North American headquarters—dubbed “HQ2”—where the company could house up to 50,000 jobs (one day) with average salaries (today) of $100,000.

Within a decade, the new HQ would be a “full equal” to the company’s $4-billion campus of 33 buildings in urban Seattle, according to a press release.

Cities have until Oct. 19 to send proposals to Amazon, which will reportedly pick the winner next year. Atlanta appears to check many boxes the company is expressly looking for: direct access to mass transit, a deep pool of regional talent, nearby international airport, large overall population, and easy access to major highways.

A wide variety of sites will be considered: suburban and urban, greenfield and infill.

Curbed Atlanta readers commenced the brainstorming immediately.

“In my opinion, this should be the anchor of The Gulch redevelopment,” wrote one via email. “[Or] if they wanted Midtown, this could be the one chance for [developer John] Dewberry to develop 10th and Peachtree [streets]. It would be tough to find that much space near MARTA in Buckhead. I assume they could develop around Sandy Springs if they want the suburbs ... Let's hope for The Gulch.”

Insert Amazon’s HQ2 here?
Curbed Atlanta

It sounds like early competition will include Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is personally trying to court the favor of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, per the Chicago Tribune.

Los Angeles and even less-sexy Rust Belt cities such as Pittsburgh are officially throwing hats in the ring, too. Naturally, every metro area of more than 1 million residents (one of Amazon’s requirements) seems to think they have a chance at landing this potential economic windfall.

Of course, the tradeoff for coveted salaries and ancillary economic benefits is the tax breaks and other discounts Amazon is openly asking for.

The AJC notes that metro Atlanta—fresh off major corporate wins such as Mercedes-Benz, Anthem, GE Digital, and Honeywell—could have a serious leg up, especially when cost of living and the hotbed of brainpower that is Georgia Tech are taken into consideration.

What’s more, per the newspaper: “Amazon has corporate offices in Atlanta, as well as fulfillment centers for package delivery. The company’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods includes several Atlanta area locations ... Economic development officials have much to pitch in metro Atlanta. The region offers relatively affordable real estate, both in terms of existing buildings and raw land, and a skilled labor force.”

And logic says that, with headquarters in Seattle and ATL, the company would physically have both ends of the country covered.

Here’s hoping ...