C.F., Paw­tucket: Bring it Ama­zon

Cities un­veil a joint pro­posal to host new Ama­zon head­quar­ters

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BIS­SON­NETTE jbis­son­nette@paw­tuck­et­times.com

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.

DBVW Ar­chi­tects

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.

DBVW Ar­chi­tects

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.

Pho­tos by Ernest A. Brown

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.

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