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Sharing the Amazon HQ2 would be half disappointment, half a relief for Crystal City

Crystal City in Northern Virginia remains favored to land thousands of Amazon jobs as part of the company's planned expansion, but individuals near the process said they now expect the 50,000 jobs to be shared between the project At least two cities – an abrupt change in a search that has lasted more than a year. 19659004] The possibility of sharing the project has been discussed with officials in Virginia, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. Virginia officials are prepared to make an announcement soon, when Amazon makes its final decision, according to people near the talks.

A person near the process said that Amazon had decided for the split, and another said it was "very much on the table" as recently as a week ago. A third person, who is close to the company, said that Amazon had discussed a split for several months, but was not sure if a final decision was made.

Amazon refused to comment, other than confirming the company's commitment to making a decision this year. Arlington County and the Office of Government Ralph Northam (D) also refused to comment.

(Amazon's founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

It is still unclear how many – if any – other cities remain. The New York Times reported Monday that half of the project was expected to go to Long Island City, in Queens. The offices of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D) did not respond to requests for comment.

Crystal City subway station. (Astrid Riecken for Washington Post)

While much of the country focused on mid-term elections, officials from five other finalists said talking on condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure deals with Amazon said they had not been told they had been eliminated. There was no sign that either District or Montgomery County, or that Virginia places other than Crystal City and nearby Potomac Yard in the city of Alexandria were still considered.

In Dallas, the parent company of Dallas Morning News sent a government archive this week and agreed to sell the newspaper's former headquarters in an agreement that would provide additional compensation if the purchaser later "entered into an Amazon agreement."

A spokesman for Dallas's Regional Chamber of Commerce, which handles the city's bid, refused to comment.

Amazon's apparent decision to split the project instead of opening a second headquarters on par with its Seattle campus, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, reprimanded anyone who said that Amazon had encouraged competition between cities just to c hide the rules in the middle. Someone said it was unfair, the company seemed to be considering only places in more affluent communities.

Amazon launched the project in the autumn of 2017, dubbed it HQ2 and issued search criteria for "a second headquarters" with as many as 50,000 jobs.

"Due to the successful growth of the company, it now requires a second headquarter in North America," suggested the treatment.

Bezos reiterated the personal scope of the project in a press release: "We expect HQ2 to be fully equivalent to our Seattle headquarters," he said.

City studies author and academic Richard Florida called the process a "shame" that forced cities and said "cough up grants." [19659019] Greg Leroy from Washington-based law firm Good Jobs First said that jurisdictions offering fixed-price subsidies to Amazon – promising to expand roads or transit – could be exposed to paying the same amount for fewer jobs.

"I think it would be very unusual if there are no promises of special offers on the table," said Leroy.

Others said that the idea of ​​a divide makes sense for Amazon because of the difficulty of finding 50,000 qualified workers – many of them Computer engineers – in a single region. Concerns about the pressure Amazon's growth could depend on housing, transport networks and schools could also be alleviated.

"By choosing two cities, Amazon will not increase the cost of labor as much as they can by focusing its demand in just one subway area, "said Heidi Learner, chief economist at the consulting company Savills Studley.

"Maybe half is good," said Mark J. Rozell, Dean of Schar School of Politics and Government at George Mason University. "Many people were worried about a lot of stress on local resources, capacity, schools, housing costs."

In Virginia and New York, the public remains largely in the dark about what has been offered to the company, as neither the state has made its bids public. New York officials have said earlier that they have not offered anything to Amazon beyond what is available to other companies, but last week, it announced 180 million dollars in infrastructure improvements to Long Island City – which would support the Amazon campus if it moved there.

After Washington Post reported Saturday Amazon was close to an agreement for Crystal City, the State of Del. Lee J. Carter (D-Manassas) posted a question on Twitter: "Can not wait to find out how much public money we cheer for this. And if you think NoVA is expensive now, just wait until we jump into HQ2! "

After the story was published, Amazon's Director of Economic Development, Mike Grella, tweeted that Virginia officials treated their nondisclosure deals" Like a used napkin "that seemed to have had a chilling effect on officials' willingness to discuss their plans to accommodate the company.

Officials in Virginia still expect that Amazon will make a decision this month, if not in the coming days. When it does, it will leave leaders in losing jurisdictions to assess the entire time and money they invest in seeking 50,000 jobs, especially if they do not end up in one place.

"I think we've known for a while that this was something they considered," said an official from a finalist jurisdiction about the split. "I do not want to say we feel unfair. Firstly, we have millions in free advertising."

However, potential winners prepared themselves to make the best of the surprising event.

"I'm sure there would be some disappointment," said Stephen Fuller, a regional economist at George Mason University, if a jurisdiction has shared the project. "Everyone goes to the home here, and maybe it's only a double. It will still be very significant. Who else brings 25,000 jobs?"

Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.

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