Amazon HQ2 became a media spectacle because of the promise to bring 50,000 new jobs to a single community. News that Amazon would split its second headquarters between two cities, with 25,000 jobs each, muted that buzz quite a bit over the past few weeks.
But the fine print of Amazon’s agreements with the winning regions, New York and Washington D.C., shows that each office could reach nearly the size of the original, single HQ2 that Amazon promised.
A memorandum of understanding reached between Amazon and New York City includes a “planned expansion for a total of 6,000,000 to 8,000,000 square feet of commercial space that is expected to result in the creation of up to 40,000 new jobs within 15 years.” New York officials reiterated the plan in a letter to Amazon’s head of economic development, Holly Sullivan.
“Based on our discussions, Amazon.com Services, Inc. will establish a headquarters in Long Island City of 4,000,000 to 8,000,000 square feet, create 25,000 jobs with a potential expansion of up to 40,000 jobs,” wrote Howard Zemsky, CEO of Empire State Development.
Amazon made similar commitments in the Virginia suburb of Washington D.C. that will become Amazon’s new home. The agreement reached in that community says Amazon officials “estimate to create potentially 37,850 New Jobs, with a minimum of 25,000 New Jobs.”
If those expansions come to fruition, it would make the two HQ2s nearly the size of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, which employs more than 45,000. Amazon’s growth to that size over about a decade has put a strain on traffic and housing costs in Seattle. Although Seattle’s population boom does not rest solely on Amazon’s shoulders, the tech giant is the poster child of tech growth in the city.
Last week, Amazon announced the winners of its HQ2 contest, concluding more than a year of competition between cities, fervent speculation, and nonstop media coverage. One office will be located in a new Northern Virginia neighborhood called National Landing, just across the Potomac river from Washington D.C. The other will be in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, separated from Manhattan by the East River.
This story has been updated to correct the name of the Empire State Development CEO.