C.F., Pawtucket: Bring it Amazon
Cities unveil a joint proposal to host new Amazon headquarters
PAWTUCKET – The mayors of Pawtucket and Central Falls on Thursday morning announced that they have plans in place to potentially serve as a host to Amazon HQ2 – Amazon’s second North American headquarters – saying that a large parcel of land within the cities’ Train Station District could be ideal for the new campus.
Pawtucket and Central Falls have been collaborating since Amazon first publicly said it was looking for a second home outside of Seattle and officials in the two communities are “ready to answer the state of Rhode Island’s request for input on possible locations for a bid.”
In a press release issued Thursday morning that reads like the two cities’ application to the Seattle-based e-commerce giant, the mayors of the neighboring cities tout their communities’ history and proximity to Boston, Providence, and major Ivy League universities.
“Our two cities are always working together to position our communities for the future,” Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien said in the release. “This is where innovation began with the Industrial Revolution. We stand together, ready to hit the ground running to welcome another industry game-changer, Amazon, and tens of thousands of jobs to our Train Station District.”
Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa, meanwhile, added: “When I became Mayor, the city of Central Falls was living in the past. But, we have become a true American post-industrial success story: focusing on fiscal responsibility, stimulating economic development and building the workforce of tomorrow. Bringing America’s retail giant is the next step for our region to continue to grow a regional, crossboundary, creative economy. We stand ready to lead.”
The joint proposal calls for construction of 884,000 square feet of new office, retail, and mixed use residential space in the area of Lonsdale Avenue and Pine, Rand, and Conant streets on the city line. The plan also includes a new 790-car parking structure.
Amazon, the tech colossus with 341,000 employees and more than $135 billion in revenue in 2016, announced earlier this month its intention to build “HQ2,” its second North American headquarters. Amazon officials have said that they expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow the campus to include as many as 50,000 jobs over the next 10 to 15 years, calling it a “full equal” to its current Seattle campus.
In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create thousands of additional jobs and
billions in additional investment in the surrounding community, officials with the tech company have said. Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy.
Amazon’s 33-building Seattle headquarters measures in at 8.1 million square feet, houses 40,000 employees, and contains 24 restaurants. On population alone, Amazon’s Seattle campus would be Rhode Island’s seventh-largest city.
Amazon officials have said they are seeking in a potential HQ2 campus: “A location with strong local and regional talent – particularly in software development and related fields – as well as a stable and business-friendly environment to continue hiring and innovating on behalf of our customers.”
Pawtucket and Central Falls have been jointly planning for the development of a Train Station District that encompasses more than 50 acres of available development, with a total of 160 acres – 2 million square feet of historic mill buildings – and the potential to more than double that square footage via new construction.
A new joint planning committee was established earlier this year to “provide a more fluid and streamlined development process in the district by breaking down municipal barriers,” city officials said.
The two cities become the first in the Ocean State to publicly express interest in wooing the tech giant to their community, but they are far from the only one in North America to do so. More than 100 cities including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago have all said they would like to become the new home to HQ2.
In Amazon’s eight-page request for proposal, or RFP, it asks for states, provinces, and metro areas to coordinate with relevant jurisdictions to submit one RFP per metropolitan statistical area. RFPs are due to Amazon by Oct. 19 with site selection and announcement expected next year.
Inside the RFP, Amazon states a preference for metropolitan areas with more than one million people, a stable and business-friendly environment, urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent, and communities that “think big and creatively” when considering locations and real estate options.
HQ2 could be, but does not have to be, an urban or downtown campus, a similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus, or a developmentprepped site. “We want to encourage states/provinces and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline,” officials say.
Amazon’s core preferences for HQ2 include being located within 45 minutes of an international airport, access to major highways and arterial roads, and mass transit on site including direct access to rail, train, subway or metro, and bus routes. Pawtucket and Central Falls officials contend they meet those objectives with T.F. Green and Logan International airports nearby, access to Interstate 95 with four nearby exit or on-ramps, and thriving arts communities, bicycle paths, and riverfront access.
Pawtucket and Central Falls officials both say they’ll continue to work with local partners including The Pawtucket Foundation, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, and Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, as they prepare their bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.
This artist’s rendering provided by DBVW Architects, of Providence, shows a proposal for a new North American headquarters for Amazon, the online retail company that has more than 300,000 employees worldwide. The site would make use of historic mill buildings near the city line along Pine Street and Rand Street.
The two cities’ proposal for Amazon’s ‘HQ2’ includes office, retail and residential space and would be within easy walking distance of a commuter rail station.
A new proposal from officials in Pawtucket and Central Falls targets these areas along the Conant Street Industrial area and Carpenter Street as the new center for a new Amazon headquarters.