Amazon Project Goes South:Officials Announce Arlington, VA and New York City to Be East Coast Locations; Walsh, and O’Brien Promise to Move Ahead with Suffolk Downs Project

November 18, 2018
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For the past year, the City of Boston has jumped through hoops to accommodate the possibility of Amazon placing its second North American headquarters (Amazon HQ2) at Suffolk Downs.

In February the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) approved HYM Investment Group, LLC’s Suffolk Downs Phase I proposal. Phase I of the Suffolk Downs project involves building on a one million square foot portion of the 161-acre site that would house Amazon offices close to the Suffolk Downs MBTA Blue Line station.

However, it was all for not as Amazon announced Tuesday morning it has selected New York City and Arlington, Virginia, as the locations for its new headquarters. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said the company will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations, with more than 25,000 employees each in New York City and Arlington.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” said Bezos Tuesday in a statement. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

Boston made Amazon’s short list of possible locations and was one of 20 finalists for the HQ2 project.

The BPDA and HYM Investment LLC, owner of Suffolk Downs, scrambled to expedite zoning approvals so Boston would remain a desirable location for the Seattle-based tech giant and be so-called ‘Amazon-ready.’

The BPDA’s approval of  Suffolk Downs Phase I included 520,000 sq. ft. of office space within two 260,000 sq. ft. buildings with supporting corporate space on the ground floor. Both buildings would be approximately 124 feet tall and would have includes terraced outdoor spaces with a landscaped, open-air walkway between the two buildings.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said Amazon is already an important part of the Boston economy with a significant presence here with 1,000 employees between Boston and Cambridge, and is actively hiring and expanding in the area.

“I am proud that throughout this process we were able to showcase the best of all we have to offer here in the City of Boston in a way that was transparent and led with our strengths: a talented and diverse workforce, culture of innovation and opportunity for all,” said Walsh. “Amazon is an important part of Boston’s economy, a large employer, and a valuable partner who is actively hiring and expanding in Boston and the area. While I am proud Boston was named to Amazon’s shortlist for its second North American headquarters, our future will not be defined by a single company as we continue to plan for equitable, sustainable growth.”

HYM Founding Partner Thomas O’Brien has maintained that the Suffolk Downs project is a winner for Boston and Revere with or without Amazon as an anchor business.

O’Brien has long maintained that if Amazon did not come to Boston the BPDA permitted Phase 1 project would be marketed to other tech companies as a ‘shovel ready parcel once considered by Amazon’ .

“We would try and market the Phase I plans to other tech companies and if there are no bites we’ll revert that portion of the project back to residential and retail,” said O’Brien at a recent Impact Advisory Group meeting.

O’Brien added that any major change of use that was approved by the BPDA would have to come back before the community and HYM would have to file a Notice of Project Change before moving forward with revisions.