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Inside Amazon’s Day 1 tower in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon plans to split its second headquarters evenly between two cities, an anonymous source familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. It’s the latest twist in the company’s remarkable HQ2 competition, which has captivated the nation for more than a year.

Originally, Amazon said it planned to hire 50,000 employees at its second headquarters, on par with the 45,000 or so working at the company’s original Seattle home. The divided HQ2 locations would each house 25,000 employees, The Journal reports. Amazon declined to comment on the story.

RELATED: Dual Amazon HQ2s would depart from original promise of ‘full equal’ second headquarters

By splitting the second headquarters, Amazon’s Seattle office would remain its largest concentration of employees and the center of gravity for the tech giant. The company employs about 45,000 people in Seattle, and its rapid growth has put additional strains on the city’s infrastructure.

The pivot to two additional headquarters is reportedly driven by Amazon’s insatiable appetite for tech talent. It would also put less pressure on the cities’ transportation infrastructure and housing markets than concentrating the project in one region. However, the new direction would counter the messaging Amazon founder Jeff Bezos put forth in September 2017 when he said: “we expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters.”

Adding redundancies to operations is in Amazon’s DNA, so choosing two HQ2 cities would not be a surprise. The company has satellite offices, Amazon Web Services centers, and warehouses across North America and it is constantly seeking opportunities to access new talent pools.

The source said that the winning cities have not been selected but The Journal reported Sunday that Amazon was in final discussions with Northern Virginia, Dallas, and New York City. Late on Monday, The New York Times reported that Amazon would move to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, across the river from Midtown Manhattan in New York, in addition to another headquarters in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Va.

The metro areas of New York and Washington, D.C. already represent strong bases of talent for Amazon, and the company has more open positions currently in those two areas than almost all of the other HQ2 candidate cities, according to an analysis of job data by GeekWire in September..

There are 20 cities in the running for HQ2, though officials in many of them say they haven’t heard from Amazon in months.

The entire HQ2 process has caused a backlash against Amazon, a criticism that may accelerate now that the company is reportedly considering two HQ2 locations.

Amazon plans to make its announcement by the end of the year, and the company is reportedly waiting until the mid-term election buzz passes. With the steady stream of leaks tied to the search over the past week, it’s possible Amazon will accelerate its announcement timeline.

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