Amazon announced part of their HQ2 is coming along on schedule but the full project will soon go on pause:
John Schoettler, Amazon’s real estate head, said in a statement the company is pushing out the groundbreaking of PenPlace, the second phase of the sprawling northern Virginia campus. The first phase of the campus, known as Metropolitan Park, is expected to open on time this June and will be occupied by 8,000 employees.
The move comes as Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has taken steps to curtail expenses across the company in the face of slowing revenue and a gloomy economic outlook. That’s led to the company announcing the largest layoffs in its history, totaling more than 18,000 employees, while also reevaluating its real estate portfolio and sunsetting some projects…
PenPlace encompasses three 22-story office buildings, more than 100,000 square feet of retail space and a 350-foot-tall tower, called “The Helix.” The development is larger than Metropolitan Park, which sits south of PenPlace, and includes two additional, 22-story office towers, as well as a mixed-use site featuring retail, restaurants and green spaces.
Amazon selected Arlington as the site of HQ2, in addition to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, as part of a closely watched, splashy search for a second headquarters that kicked off in 2017. The company announced in 2019 it would halt plans to build its new headquarters in New York after it faced pushback from local activists and city council leaders.
Numerous communities across the United States submitted proposals to host this second headquarters and the company sought tax breaks. The promise of the new headquarters involved at least these two big features: the status of Amazon in your community plus the thousands of jobs in a corporate headquarters.
With the changes in the world, will these promises pan out for Arlington, Virginia and the D.C. metro area? It sounds like at least 8,000 employees will be onsite. However, the headquarters may never be as big as once envisioned. Does Amazon have the same status in 2023 that it did in 2017? This include everything from its financial outlook to its recent layoffs to changes in the everyday Amazon experience for customers.
On the whole, I would guess local leaders will still pitch this as a big win. We got Amazon and all these jobs (and implying that others did not). The long-term effects might be less clear, particularly if tax breaks for Amazon and opportunity costs and the longer-term fortunes of the company are factored in.