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Can Atlanta kiss its Amazon HQ2 hopes goodbye?

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Credible signs are pointing strongly toward the Washington D.C. area

An aerial photo of Atlanta taken by drone.
Fifty thousands jobs—who needs ’em!
Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

Fourteen months since the concept of Amazon HQ2 ignited chamber-of-commerce frenzies across North America, a whittled finalist list, quality-of-life gauges, tireless speculation, and fluctuating gambling odds have made HQ2 fatigue a reality.

But still, when polled on these pages a few months ago, nearly one-third of 2,400 voters said they were still “really pulling for Atlanta ... to shock the world.” And more than 60 percent of voters initially felt Atlanta had a very strong chance of winning the corporate derby of a generation.

A spate of recent reports seems to indicate—perhaps more credibly than ever—that all that wishing was for naught.

The past weekend, citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon reps have progressed to “late-stage talks” with a handful of remaining contenders, including Dallas, New York City, and Northern Virginia’s Crystal City.

Meanwhile, talks with other cities on the HQ2 finalists shortlist—Atlanta, Nashville, Denver, Toronto, and Raleigh among them—have “cooled,” per the WSJ.

Graffiti near Krog Street Tunnel this past summer.
Curbed Atlanta

Another report in recent days by the Washington Post could also be seen as a blow to Atlanta’s HQ2 ambitions.

Amazon is so close to naming Crystal City its HQ2 pick that a top real estate developer is yanking specific buildings off the market and area officials are discussing how best to make the announcement public, according to the Post.

The revelation/speculation was enough to stoke the ire of Amazon’s director of economic development, Mike Grella, who lashed out against the “genius leaking info” about Northern Virginia on Twitter.

Amazon

Nonetheless, as one example, top officials in another possible HQ2 landing spot, Chicago, are dismissing recent reports as “rumors” and still holding out hope.

For whoever wins (or loses, some would argue) HQ2, the e-commerce behemoth has the potential to reshape a city with up to 50,000 jobs—and average salaries of $100,000—making it an equal to Amazon’s $4-billion urban campus in Seattle.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently said he plans to make good on picking a city for HQ2 by the end of 2018, which leaves about 35 business days left to choose.

At a conference Friday, Amazon’s billionaire head honcho wasn’t tipping his hand, saying the HQ2 decision will be based on both data and “intuition,” as CNN Business relayed.