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With Amazon’s HQ2 Decision, A Windfall Expected for Reston, Northern Virginia

by Fatimah Waseem November 13, 2018 at 11:45 am 29 Comments

Amazon’s decision to bring its second headquarters to Crystal City is sure to send an immediate and impactful jolt across Arlington, but what’s less clear is how the coming of the technology giant will impact Northern Virginia as a whole.

Although Reston is couched far from Arlington, the community could see a windfall from the new headquarters, which will be split between Arlington and Long Island City, especially with the community’s onboarding to the Silver Line and a planned expansion in development and redevelopment over the next two decades. 

Business leaders in the area portend the coming of Amazon will help expedite the transformation of communities like Reston from a federal government town to a technology corridor. That transition is already taking place with the coming of new headquarters like Leidos, a scientific research company, to Reston’s new developments.

Mark Ingrao, CEO and president of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, said secondary and tertiary businesses lured by Amazon’s foothold in Arlington may be enticed to set up shop in new and emerging developments in Reston around the Silver Line.

“It is going to be a prime opportunity to relocate here in an area that’s new and right on the Silver Line,” Ingrao told Reston Now.

Additionally, limitations in the amount and affordability of housing stock in Arlington could push some employees and residents to find housing in Reston’s transit station areas, which are in the process of major transformation and redevelopment. The move could also diversify Reston’s workforce, Ingrao said.

But the move is not without challenges, ushering in associated concerns about infrastructure and transportation impacts that have long plagued discussions about future development in Reston.

Ingrao is optimistic that the coming of tech giants like Amazon will help expedite county and state discussions about needed transportation infrastructure improvements and encourage officials to tackle them in a “more direct way.”

“At the end of the day, it should force local government and others to really concentrate on the infrastructure needs and get them addressed sooner rather than later,” Ingrao said.

Here’s more from what county officials and business leaders are saying about the decision.

“Having HQ2 in Northern Virginia will bring important jobs, business diversity and more innovative technology to the area,” said Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work with Amazon Web Services to expand its presence here and are excited to collaborate with other innovative companies that will be putting down roots in Fairfax County soon.”

“We congratulate Arlington and Alexandria on being selected in the process for Amazon HQ2,’ said Buddy Rizer, director of Loudoun Economic Development. “We consider this a win for the entire region. Many of Loudoun’s highly educated professionals will join the Amazon workforce, and many of Loudoun’s wine country and other retail and recreation venues will become favorite destinations for Amazon employees throughout the Northern Virginia/DC Metro region. We will continue to market Loudoun County as a world-class location for global businesses like Amazon, and we look forward to making some exciting announcements about new Loudoun companies soon.”

Photo courtesy Crystal City BID

  • 30yearsinreston

    Amazon may be close to pulling off the biggest taxpayer funded scam in ourhistory
    If Amazon is so great why does Seattle want to limit their growth ?
    Could it be because Seattle has awaken to the fact that the ‘benefits’ are paid for by taxpayers and residents wirhout any contribution by Amazon ?
    The usual BS spouted by the ‘business leaders’ regarding technology companies should be taken with a large bucket of salt
    For example, Leidos is a government defense contractor, not a innovator nor research company
    Reston has been a technical hub since the early nineties when the telecom companies like MCI and AOL built the infrastructure first and then moved their operations here and to Loudon
    One would have thought that the local politicians would have learnt that lesson by now
    Innovation and research is not in Amazons DNA

    The subtext is that Bezos has ambitions to be in Government and having a DC base is a step towards that goal

    Since Northern Virginia neither needs Amazon nor its ‘benefits’, Amazon should be paying Northern Virginia for the use of our infrastructure and resources, just as any other legitimate business

    • wasINWDC

      Agreed, this area doesn’t need something like Amazon, it’s already one of the most prosperous metro areas in the country. It’ll be interesting to see what Arlington gave away in order to get Amazon to come here. I don’t think that’s been disclosed yet.

      • Greg

        Most of it has been disclosed. North of a billion (tax) dollars total.

        Apparently no free houses, though. Certainly that’s why Fairfax County was eliminated.

        https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2018/11/13/virginias-win-of-amazon-hq2-wasnt-just-based-on.html

        • wasINWDC

          That’s not nearly as bad as I would have guessed. After glancing over that article it actually seems like a somewhat
          sensible package that doesn’t completely pillage taxpayers.

          • Greg

            Perhaps, but there’s not a penny dedicated to infrastructure. Metro, alone, will need bilions.

            The single new Potomac Yard station being added in Alexandria (just a station, no tracks, trains, staff, or anything else) is expected to cost at least $320 million. And that’s after it’s been scaled back with one fewer entrance.

            Both Arlington and Alexandria’s sewer systems are under consent orders to eliminate dumping untreated sewage when it rains (DC is too) with the existing population.

          • 30yearsinreston

            Are you saying a robbery of over $billion isnt that bad ?
            This is just the down payment
            The cost of schools and infrastucture, to which Amazon with its tax scams, doesnt directly contribute will be at least 20 times that

          • James

            25,000 jobs are required with this outlay at a minimum salary of $150,000 a year. That alone is 25,000 x $7500 in state income taxes collected yearly or $187mil. Any concessions provided by the government will be paid back in <5 years. Pretty good deal that will cement Northern Virginia as a technology center for decades to come.

          • 30yearsinreston

            Northern Virginia had been a technology center since the early 90’s
            It remains so and doesnt need Amazon which doesnt innovate but is a technology parasite
            Your financial calculation is laughable just like your logic
            Hint: all the extra resources are not ‘free’ @

          • RERSRESQ

            You haven’t been paying attention to Amazon’s pay scales. Many of their employees are on food stamps (SNAP).

          • James

            None of these employees in Crystal City are going to be on food stamps. They are going to be high paying $150k/year jobs or higher.

          • RERSRESQ

            They said similar things in Seattle, but it didn’t work out that way.

          • James

            That’s not the issue in Seattle either. Amazon’s well paid employees have increased the cost of living, specifically housing. Amazon helped rush the gentrification of Seattle. Again, the majority of employees in Seattle are not on SNAP benefits. I can tell you’ve done some research on this but your facts are a bit twisted. I would recommend reading more about this so you can form a more accurate opinion.

          • Greg

            Amazon, like Walmart and many other companies, hires hundreds of thousands of very low-skilled workers in low-paying jobs. Other than a high-school diploma, which one can obtain for free, there are few other requirements for this work. These jobs, in storefronts and warehouses, pay the lowest wages as they require few skills. They are readily available in most locations in the USA.

            Those facts being so, Amazon (and others) have agreed to raise wages to $15 per hour for those low-skilled workers.

            The career professionals located in Reston (at Walmart Labs), Herndon (Amazon’s AWS), and eventually in Arlington all have at least a four-year college degree and many have advanced degrees.

            What’s more, their skills are in high demand and cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire — mostly while not earning much income. So, that’s four to eight years invested in skills and of lost income to secure a higher-paying career position. That’s why they earn well north of $100K. In Silicon Valley, many in this class earn $250k and more.

            Even trade and technical workers have to acquire skills and experience at a lower (or no) income. They make those investments of time and money to secure a higher paying job or career. Some do it with on-the-job training; some in the uniformed services; and some at trade, technical, and community schools / colleges.

            The nearest Amazon warehouses (with lower paying work) are in and near Baltimore which has a cost of living 1/2 or 1/3 that of Arlington.

          • RERSRESQ

            I hear directly from friends in Seattle. But, all you have to do if follow what was going when the city tried to put a new per employee tax to see the simmering problems with giving Bezo big subsidies and poorly paid employees.

          • The Orginal Drive By Critic

            Nope. Your calculations are laffable. You must have pulled them out of your hat (or somewhere else)

          • RERSRESQ

            “Completely pillage taxpayers?” That is the standard.

            Why are we overloading our streets and services to just to further enrich Jeff Bezo?

            Where is the Governor on this. On the side of richest Democrat donors over the aveage Northern Virginian. It’s a disgrace.

  • Why do you bother?

    Great – now even MORE cars on our already inadequate road system. Happy to have the tax revenue, but sheesh.

    • Greg

      Let’s hope none of the newbies live north or west of the Rosslyn metro station.

    • 30yearsinreston

      What tax revenue ?
      Amazon are one of the worlds largest tax evaders

      • Why do you bother?

        I was referring to all of the new people using the toll road, etc.

  • 30yearsinreston

    The news is that the space is slated for Amazon Web Services aka outsourced IT
    Just common garden contractors under a new label
    Oh well, so much for the technology and innovation spin

  • The Original Drive By Critic

    I’m really glad that they are going to locate most of this mess in National Landing (wtf?) and not out here in Reston or Loudoun County. Things traffic, transportation, housing, etc) are messed up enough here already. I hope Arlington and Alexandria areas know what they are in for…and I hope that any spill-over effect is minimal to us.

    • Greg

      Arlington and Alexandria will benefit handsomely at the cost of the entire region. Among others, the black hole for money, aka Metro, is regionally funded. The billions spent on it will benefit Arlington and Alexandria but be paid for by all of us — the vast majority of whom never use it.

      Alexandria is a city, and Arlington County functions as one. They can (and do) tax more and deeper than Fairfax, and keep far more of what they take.

      Crystal City’s landlord, JBG, will benefit handsomely. After all, CC is mostly obsolete, Brutalist buildings set in a dysfunctional setting. It’s been on the decline for decades and may now be revitalized. Unlike some in Reston who want nothing to ever change (including long-vacant, obsolete, eyesore buildings and bunkers), those in Arlington and Alexandria embrace change.

      Our golden goose, aka the toll road, will be tapped ever more, and we will get fewer resources to address our infrastructure deficiencies.

      Seems to me it was well played.

      • 30yearsinreston

        Its not that Amazon are smart, its because the political “leaders” are so stupid and got caught up in the hype over the slight expansion of a couple of existing regional offices

        This was to be expected

        https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-13/amazon-s-hq2-backlash-it-s-mostly-nimbyism

        • Greg

          It’s 25,000, more or less, jobs over at least 10 years. Assumes no recessions, meltdowns, or regulatory throttles at Amazon.

          And, let’s not forget that part of Arlington is ground zero for a terrorist attack. Or plane crash.

          Also, the DMV usually absorbs 65,000-100,000 jobs. A year.

      • OneReally

        Is the one crystal city establishment still there?

        You know the one? 🙂

      • The Original Drive By Critic

        Greg must be working for Amazon…I stand by my statement that I am glad that this mess called Amazon is situated somewhere else and not in my immediate backyard (does that make me a nimby? I don’t think so) And good for JBG! A large, wealthy development company gets even wealthier…yes that is a sweet deal for them, Greg.
        And when you stop slandering Reston residents who care about their built-up environment and related issues, and stop giving us that chamber of commerce b.s. (about ppl not willing to “embrace change” as you put it) let me remind you that no one should accept change when it is rammed down one’s throat just so others can make mega-money from your inconvenience. Oh, how I could go on, but Greg seems to have an answer for everything here…

        • Greg

          For shame. Go stand in the corner.

          Nimby
          /ˈnimbē/Submit
          noun
          a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or potentially dangerous in their own neighborhood, such as a landfill or hazardous waste facility, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.

  • RERSRESQ

    So, we are going to give the richest man in the world billions of dollars to help further clog Northern Virginia traffic? Where is Ken Plum and Janet Howell on this? Sitting idly by to help the richest Democrat at the expense of Virginia’s taxpayers?

    This is foolishness with other people’s hard earned incomes. It makes no sense overloading Northern Virginia’s roads and services with this Bezo bonanza.

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