A rendering of office towers on a 5.5-acre parcel along the Passaic River, which were included as part of Newark’s state-supported submission for the Amazon HQ2 project. — Courtesy: Matrix Development Group
Amazon said it won’t reopen its search for a second headquarters after pulling out of New York City, but who’s to say that Newark and other shortlisted cities will just quietly step aside?
Newark certainly isn’t. After Thursday’s bombshell announcement, Mayor Ras Baraka took the opportunity to remind the tech giant of everything that helped it become a finalist for the coveted HQ2 project to begin with.
“Given the city and state’s assets — a strong talent pipeline, a diverse tech base, unmatched infrastructure and a highly accessible location — we are well poised to accommodate Amazon should they want to relocate New York City’s portion of HQ2, in whole or part,” Baraka said. “Legislation regarding the tax incentives has already been passed, our real estate options are still viable, and the community has been — and will continue to be — engaged.
“Newark is becoming a national model for what equitable development should look like across the country and we welcome the opportunity to resume conversations with Amazon and provide them an opportunity to be a part of its renaissance.”
Given Baraka’s offer — and the thoughtful, well-executed pitch by city and state officials — it’s worth looking back at what exactly Newark put on the table during the yearlong sweepstakes for HQ2. The city’s 250-page submission to Amazon detailed 500,000 square feet of move-in ready office space at buildings such as 33 Washington St., 520 Broad St. and the landmark Gateway complex, while offering new development opportunities at Matrix Riverfront Plaza, the former Newark Bears stadium site and parcels near the Prudential Center, among others.
Of course, the pitch included more than just real estate — highlighting everything from the city’s access to talent and education and a vast web of underground fiber optic cable that can produce the fastest internet in the country at affordable prices. There was also the combined $7 billion incentive package that city and state officials promised and subsequently approved.
But it seemingly wasn’t meant to be when Amazon announced in mid-November that it was opting to split the new headquarters and some 50,000 new jobs between the up-and-coming Long Island City section of Queens and Crystal Springs, Virginia. Then came the unforeseen backlash from several elected officials and community activists in New York City.
In announcing its decision to pull out on Thursday, Amazon said that building out a new headquarters “requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” which it was not finding in Queens. The company does not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time, the statement said, and will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and another site in Nashville, while continuing to hire and grow across its 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.
Unfortunately, Newark isn’t explicitly in that group of 17. The closest thing to it is the New York “metro area,” where Amazon lists some 2,000 jobs in the region. And that seemingly doesn’t include Audible, the Amazon subsidiary, which has been headquartered in Newark for more than a decade.
What does all this mean? Nobody really knows except Amazon, but the fact remains that Newark still has much to offer the tech giant and other companies, as the unprecedented HQ2 process revealed.
Like Baraka, Gov. Phil Murphy also took the chance on Thursday to let Amazon know that we’re still here if it needs us (although there was no mention of the incentive package).
“After learning of the decision to pull out of their chosen HQ2 location, I contacted Amazon and city of Newark stakeholders directly, continuing a constant dialogue that predates my time as governor,” Murphy said. “New Jersey is open for business, and now more than ever, Newark is the clear choice as the next presence for Amazon corporate offices.
“Amazon now has the opportunity to join in Newark’s story of a city on the rise.”
You can find many of our stories on Newark’s bid for HQ2 right here: