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Atlanta highlights urban transit plans

Amazon has not revealed why it rejected Atlanta.

But when choosing where to put their highly sought-after other headquarters, the tech girl emphasizes what it would like if the two places it eventually decided to share the prize and 50,000 combined jobs.

In addition to the highest character of skilled talented workers, the tech giant cited the urban feel of the places in New York City and Metro Washington DC and their fast access to subway, trains, buses, airports, ferries, bike sharing and walking.

What not mentioned in its official statement: highways.

Actually, it's not entirely true. It pointed to plans to improve the pedestrian experience that crosses one.

Amazon's nationwide search for an ideal location magnifies a problem Metro Atlanta and other cities are increasingly breeding with: growing business and community needs for attractive urban areas offering a host of nearby amenities plus easy ways to get around without getting in car.

The press is partly assumed to be top workers ̵

1; especially young, technologically brilliant people who have high demand – expecting jobs that fit into their lifestyles. It could mean places with a mix of everything from cool restaurants to recreation, bars, public spaces, lively cultural monuments, groceries, transit stations and more, all within a charming stroll in the office or a quick trip from home.

The work to set the scene for the Atlanta atmosphere is not only left to developers.

Earlier this month, Atlanta City Council approved $ 1.9 billion in subsidies to Gulch, a proposed $ 5 billion private project of office towers, homes, hotels and retail in a barent city center near the CNN Center.

The city continues to add the Atlanta Beltline, the partially built and incredibly popular loop linking neighborhoods .
And last month, MARTA's Board approved a plan of $ 2.7 billion to expand transit in the city for the next 40 years. It is slated to be funded with a half ear sales tax increase Atlanta voters approved in 2016.

Downtown Boosters has also proposed creating exciting public spaces and a re-created street grid to be built on a platform that covers 14 acres of Downtown Connector. And Georgia Tech, already a magnet for companies wishing to be close to students and graduates, will be a major tenant in the new 21-story Coda building
which was designed to expand the school's successful Tech Square area.

Amazon is not alone in its desires for cool and connected places. In recent years, a number of other major employers – Kaiser Permanente, Athenahealth, NCR, PulteGroup, State Farm and Mercedes-Benz – have applied for either urban or dense suburbs in Atlanta near transit and often distances.

Nevertheless, "Amazon was a 800-pound gorilla that made all those who had not been aware of that trend aware," said Robbie Ashe, an Atlanta lawyer who is the chairman of the MARTA Board.

toughest competition

Amazon's unusual public search for an HQ2 campus lasted more than a year.

"It was probably the toughest competition in site selection history," said Andy Levine, Head of Development Counselors International, which helps cities and states with economic development marketing.

Georgia and city officials offer Seattle-based Amazon nearly $ 2 billion in incentives and benefits.

However, as tempting as Amazon's project, officials' precautionary communities were unable to reset overall strategies for transportation and land planning based on the hope of landing another such employer.

"You can get too busy in the mania about a project like this and take things too far and try to teach lessons from an opportunity that may be once in a decade or even longer than that," said Bert Brantley, chief of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Yet he said: "Many things that Amazon are looking for are things other companies are looking for."

Amazon was just more direct about what it was looking for.

State Secretary Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, is skeptical to increase pressure to expand expensive, traditionally transit in Cobb County and other suburbs where many residents want less close development.

Many businesses are still seeking suburbs, and they attract employees who would find it easier to drive instead of going to work, he said.

Some are, however, tired of long drives. Andy Powell was a committed suburb who said he loved living south of Atlanta, in Fayetteville.

But Georgia Tech degree started its small business, CallRail, Intown. His office is located near the center's Woodruff Park, where concerts, events and vans are a regular part of life.

The introduced location is crucial to attracting those sort of workers his marketing analytics systems, he says.

Atlantas urban offers and transit opportunities should be expanded, said Powell, but not to expand countless companies like Amazon.

"For Atlanta to continue to grow, we must become a more close city. That's how we will accommodate more businesses, more people, more culture." We can not continue to put more cars on the road. "

What Amazon Wanted

Amazon was open to both suburbs and urban sites, according to the first request for proposals.

But when Amazon officials toured Georgia sites earlier this year, they chose to jump over the suburbs and see only incoming alternatives relatively close to MARTA. They visited booming Midtown, Old Fourth Ward and a project called Quarry Yards near Bankhead Railway Station.

They also looked at the Gulch area and the rough south side of downtown Atlanta, an area that has recently attracted great interest from developers.

The last time a major company with a very large group of jobs moved their headquarters to even cleaning up in downtown Atlanta?

Maybe more than three decades ago, when Georgia-Pacific came to town, according to AJ Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown organization.

He said he is convinced that Midtown and downtown Atlanta took good pride in what Amazon said it was looking for.

And he said that Amazon's HQ2 search was one of the most important events that created statewide support for Atlanta mass transit.

"Suddenly, everybody is ready to do something," said Robinson.

But the construction of some transit takes many years.

House Speaker David Ralston suggested that Amazon's decision to transfer Atlanta as its headquarters may have been tied to infrastructure limit values.

"We came to the shipment game but we could not go back and pick up all these years before any of us came to management positions," said Ralston. "I think we are now moving aggressively forward to build a state that grows to transit. And I think it will pay dividends in the future."

Government officials spoke to Amazon leaders about the HQ2 decision. "They could not be more free and sincerely be more excited about the future growth of what they have here now," Brantley said.

While corporate officials did not say any local mistakes, they stressed that the decision was based on where managers thought they had the best chance to get the workers they needed, Brantley said.

Brantley said that Amazon also revealed that Atlanta was not considered for a 5,000-person eastern regional logistics note announced for downtown Nashville, a city where voters dropped a referendum yesterday earlier this year.

Brantley said that Georgia officials were told that the project was not necessarily related to the HQ2 decision, even though it was announced at the same time.

At the same time, Atlanta Boosters point to a number of other announcements about jobs coming to town, especially in Midtown.

"I think we have grown enormously like a city," said Christa Huffstickler, general manager of residential real estate firm Engel & Volkers Atlanta. She said everything from jobs, to Beltline to restaurants and festivals. "There are many moves that bring people into Atlanta. At the same time, you've had this urban workforce that built up."

– James Salzer and Michael Kanell contributed to this report.

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