Amazon launches search for second North American headquarters, with Boston in the running Update


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Above: Aerial view of Amazon's existing Seattle headquarters (Photo Courtesy Amazon)

Leading internet retailer and technology company Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, WA, has begun a search across North America for a site on which to build a second headquarters fully equal to its’ existing 8.1-million-square-foot campus. Amazon, which currently employs over 380,000 people worldwide, expects to invest over $5 billion in its’ second headquarters and employ as many as 50,000 people there, with average annual compensation exceeding $100,000 per employee. The new headquarters is necessitated by the company’s successful growth. Amazon’s existing headquarters features 33 buildings and is home to over 40,000 employees; the headquarters’ construction between 2010 and 2016 resulted in a $38 billion boost to Seattle’s economy.


Amazon is seeking a metropolitan area with over one million people that presents a “stable and business-friendly environment” per the headquarters RFP released by the company. Amazon has invited interested cities to submit a formal bid by October 19th, 2017, and is considering both urban and suburban locations for the new headquarters. Locations must be within 30 miles of the area’s population center, approximately 45 minutes of an international airport and not more than two miles from major highways and arterial roads. Access to mass transit must be available on site.


Amazon intends to open at least 500,000 square feet of its’ new headquarters by 2019, and up to 8 million square feet beyond 2027. Amazon will prioritize shovel-ready greenfield sites and infill opportunities, but will also consider existing buildings that are expandable or have nearby development options. Sites need not be contiguous, though must be close by to each other. The headquarters will be developed to top sustainability standards.


Amazon will select a city in which to construct its’ new headquarters in 2018. The City of Boston is reportedly preparing a bid; in the Boston area, there are a number of large development sites and approved development projects that could prove attractive to Amazon, including:


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LStar Ventures’ 1,500-acre Union Point mixed-use development in South Weymouth, located 12 miles south of Boston. Union Point will feature up to 4,000 homes and 6-to-8-million square feet of commercial space, with more than 1,000 acres of open space and 50 miles of trails. The site is located a short drive from Route 3 and features direct commuter service to Downtown Boston. Amazon could construct an entire build-to-suit campus at Union Point.


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The Abbey Group’s proposed 1.6-million-square-foot commercial development at the 5.5-acre Boston Flower Exchange site in Boston’s South End. The site is located across Interstate 93 from the 83-acre Widett Circle, which could prove attractive for ground-up development of additional office space.


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A combination of the approved 575,000-square-foot Hub on Causeway office tower, 1-million-square-foot Bulfinch Crossing office tower (rendered above), 1.215 million square feet of office space in the upcoming South Station Air Rights development and 575,000-square-foot office tower at the proposed Back Bay Station air rights development. All of these developments are located in the Downtown Boston area a short transit ride, drive or walk from one another. Additional ground-up office space could be constructed at the 7.5-acre SouthGate development site, which is located steps from South Station. These sites could be combined with the aforementioned Boston Flower Exchange and Widett Circle, which are also located nearby, to create additional space.


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The 161-acre Suffolk Downs site in East Boston, which was recently acquired by The HYM Investment Group for $155 million. HYM has not yet formally proposed development for the site, which could accommodate millions of square feet of development including a build-to-suit campus for Amazon. Suffolk Downs is located adjacent to two MBTA Blue Line stations, a short transit ride or drive to Logan Airport and Downtown Boston.


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The 91-acre, Harvard University-owned Beacon Park Yard in Allston, which could accommodate 7-to-8-million square feet of ground-up development and is located adjacent to the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line. Amazon could take additional office space at the nearby proposed 1.9-million-square-foot Allston Yards development, which will contain an office component, and the 15.2-acre Boston Landing development, which is located adjacent to Allston Yards, has its’ Framingham/Worcester commuter rail station and will feature 650,000 of build-to-suit office space.


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The 45-acre NorthPoint development site in East Cambridge, owned by DivcoWest, could yield millions of square feet of ground-up development. A 370,000-square-foot office building is currently under construction at NorthPoint, with many more developments to come. NorthPoint is located steps from the MBTA Green and Orange Lines and a short drive from Interstate 93. Additional office space could be constructed a short Orange Line ride and drive away at the nearby proposed two-million-square-foot 5 Middlesex Avenue commercial development next to Somerville’s Assembly Row, as well as the proposed 267,387-square-foot Assembly Row Block 5B office building.


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The 14-acre Volpe Center property in Kendall Square, which will be acquired and redeveloped by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Millions of square feet of mixed-use development are rumored to be in the works at the Volpe Center property, including a 1,000-foot-tall tower. The Volpe Center is located steps from the MBTA Red Line and multiple bus routes.

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