City Pitches Ward 6 to Amazon

Image courtesy Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced four locations that will be included in the District response to Amazon’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for its second headquarters, Amazon HQ2. The sites are in Capitol Riverfront, Capitol Hill East, Shaw-Howard University and NoMa-Union Station. The Mayor’s office says the four locations were selected because they can provide the global tech giant with the greatest opportunity to create a world-class headquarters that supports the company’s need for decades of growth.

“These locations present an unparalleled opportunity for Amazon to create interconnected, transit-oriented, and sustainable campuses with access to riverfront and green spaces,” said Mayor Bowser. “Our city’s growing tech scene, talented and diverse workforce, rich culture, and inclusive environment already made Washington, DC an ideal location for Amazon HQ2, and now people can begin to think more specifically about how the tech company will fit into our community.”

Three of the four sites include areas in Ward Six, including the Anacostia Riverfront site surrounding Nationals Stadium and Audi Field, the soccer area currently under construction for DC United; NOMA-Union Station, near Union Station and Union Market; and the Hill East site, largely located on Reservation 13 near Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Stadium. The last site was rezoned to fall in Ward 7 in 2013 and lies beside the Hill East neighborhood of Ward 6.

Site plan for Hill East site included in District proposal to Amazon. Courtesy Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) said the selection of so many sites in proximity to Ward 6 “confirms what we already know – this is an incredible community to live, work, and play,” but added that the selection of Reservation 13 as part of the Hill East site gave him pause.

“It’s unclear to me how a campus of nearly 8 million square feet of office could align with the community vision and planning that’s taken place for this site,” he said.

Noting that a winning bid would create tens of thousands of jobs and come with $5 billion in investment, Allen cautioned that “the recruitment is a competition between cities for not just the right fit, but also the right package of incentives. And I don’t believe DC should go into a negotiation holding a blank check.”

Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) Brian T. Kenner said that there was no intent to select sites in any specific ward, noting that a good portion of the Anacostia Waterfront site is located in Ward 8 and that much of the NOMA-Union Market site is located in Ward 5.

“There just happens to be a lot of development along the water, which just happens to be located in Ward 6, and between NoMa and Union Station and Union Market and so forth, there’s also a lot of development opportunity.”

“We like all of the Wards in the District of Columbia,” he said. “This was more about where we had potential and where we felt like the sites could best speak to what we feel like Amazon was asking for,” including access to transportation, vibrant neighborhoods and amenities for employees.

Kenner emphasized that the District’s proposal was at a very preliminary stage in the process, and that further conversations with Amazon, should they be interested, would help clarify many details. He said that indications were that a second phase was likely to take place after November 19th, when Amazon would narrow the list of cities for the project, and potentially undertake site visits in addition to conducting more detailed conversations.

Amazon has said the final site selection will be announced in 2018.