Amazon Cancels New York City Headquarters, Will Not Reopen Its Search at this Time

| February 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

With reports coming out last week that that Amazon was reconsidering its future New York City headquarters, the Port Covington Development Team reached out directly to Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to make a second pitch for their 235-acre, $5.5-billion South Baltimore development.

Amazon announced in November that instead of choosing one location for its second headquarters (HQ2), it would be split between Crystal City in Arlington, VA and Long Island City, Queens in New York City. Baltimore City submitted a bid for Port Covington, but was not selected as a top-20 finalist.

Amazon confirmed today that it has pulled out of New York City, where it had planned to bring 25,000 jobs spread across multiple tall buildings, but the company is not reopening its search for another location.

Amazon’s statement:

After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.

We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion—we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture—and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents. There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.

We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can’t speak positively enough about all their efforts. The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult.

We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.

Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.

The Port Covington Development Team is comprised of owners Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Development Company and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group with Weller Development Company leading the development and construction.

Marc Weller of Weller Development said the following in a statement earlier this week,”In light of the recent news that Amazon may be reconsidering its HQ2 plans, we have already reached out to Amazon and plan to resubmit our Port Covington proposal directly to Mr. Bezos,” said Weller Development Company President and Founding Partner Marc Weller in a statement.

He added, “we continue to believe that Baltimore, with its exceptional regional tech-ready workforce and prime campus location of Port Covington, is a perfect fit for Amazon’s needs now, and in the future. Unlike other potential locations, Port Covington offers shovel-ready waterfront land for Amazon to build its next campus adjacent to I-95, with ready access to international airports, rail, ports and other distribution points. Having Amazon’s headquarters at Port Covington would foster tremendous economic growth for the City and its workforce.”

We will see if Amazon reopens this search and gives Port Covington another chance to make a pitch. Port Covington is expected to be a 20-30 year project.

As part of the proposal, The Port Covington Development Team was offering Amazon the now-vacant Schuster Concrete building on E. McComas St. as the first building Amazon would occupy. The proposal noted the 97,000 sq. ft. building constructed in 1920 could be expanded to up to 500,000 sq. ft. with a four-story addition behind the front facade.

The Port Covington Development Team also offered a “blank slate” of 177 acres that Amazon could build its campus on. The proposal showed renderings of tall buildings scattered around Port Covington on both sides of S. Hanover St. and north of Cromwell St.

Chapter 1 of the Port Covington development is expected to break ground in the coming months. It will tackle the eastern section of Port Covington in the grass lots just east of The Baltimore Sun’s Sun Park along E. Cromwell St. It will have 3.025 million sq. ft. of new buildings across more than 12 city blocks.

The first phase of Chapter 1 will be called Rye Street Market. This will be a multi-block, mixed-used development across from the Sagamore Spirit Distillery on E. Cromwell St. Rye Street Market is highlighted by a large food market sharing the same name. The market will be on the first floor of a block that will have four different buildings connected by a courtyard. This block will bring 180,000 sq. ft. of office space and retail. The second block just to the southeast will feature two residential apartment buildings that will include about 260 apartments in 277,000 sq. ft.

The Port Covington Development Team is looking to make Chapter 1 a cyber hub and it has been dubbed Cyber Town USA by Mike Janke of DataTribe. Janke is relocating his cyber startup studio from Fulton, MD to Port Covington during the first phase of Chapter 1, which is expected to open in late-2020 or early-2021. DataTribe is joined by AllegisCyber and Evergreen Advisors as the first three announced companies for Chapter 1.

Janke said in October that the trio of businesses already have 28 companies committed to moving to Port Covington and expect up to 50 to 60 companies ready to move in when the first buildings open two years from now. Janke expects Port Covington to have just under 1,000 cyber security employees by the time the first phase of the development opens.

Ackerman and Janke also noted they are in talks with large cybersecurity companies looking to bring a second headquarters to Port Covington.

The Port Covington bid for Amazon did not propose buildings in the Rye Street Market section of the area, but in separate sections of the master plan.

The $5.5-billion Port Covington master plan includes Under Armour’s 50-acre, 3.9 million sq. ft. global headquarters at the former Port Covington Shopping Center; 1,500,000 sq. ft. of destination, attraction, entertainment, and specialty retail; 500,000 sq. ft. of “maker” and industrial/light manufacturing space; 200-plus hotel rooms; 1,500,000 sq. ft. of office space (in addition to the Under Armour Global Headquarters); and civic and cultural uses including 40-plus acres of public parks, a public waterfront, and other public facilities. It also includes more than 7,500 residential units, which could total up to 14,000 units comprised of rental and for-sale properties at various price-points, and potential sites for a post office, school, library, fire station, police paddock, and cultural center. The development includes 2.5 miles of waterfront along the Middle Branch.

For transportation and infrastructure, The Port Covington Development Team is planning a light rail spur along McComas St. from Westport with three new stops; redevelopment of Hanover St., McComas St., and Cromwell St.; I-95 on-ramp and off-ramp modifications; bike share stations; three water taxi stops; and a site circulator that could be rail or bus. New on-street cycle lanes have already been installed in Port Covington.

The Port Covington Development Team is also planning a walking/cycling bridge from the 1900 block of Light St. that would go over the CSX train track and under the I-95 bridges and land near Sun Park. It is also rebuilding the Spring Garden Bridge for pedestrians to connect Westport to Port Covington.

Already completed at Port Covington in Phase 1A is City Garage, which redeveloped an existing building in 2015 into a 133,000 sq. ft. office building that is “a hub for manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship;” Building 37, which converted the former Sam’s Club into a 170,000 sq. ft. Under Armour office building and amenity space; 240 W. Dickman St., which underwent some renovations and is now the home to workforce development non-profits; and the four-building Sagamore Spirit whiskey distillery which includes Rye Street Tavern, and renovations the Baltimore Yacht Basin marina and Nick’s Fish House. 

The Port Covington Development Team has also made public space improvements which include landscaped medians, taking over maintenance of West Covington Park where it added outdoor bar South Point, a new mural, and adding new off-street and on-street bike and pedestrian paths.

HQ2 rendering courtesy of The Port Covington Development Team (click to enlarge)

SouthBMore.com marked the Schuster site in this Port Covington Development Team rendering

Schuster Concrete Building 

Port Covington Chapter 1 renderings courtesy of Weller Development (click to enlarge)

 

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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