Apple quietly explores N.Va. for a second location, 20,000 jobs
Apple has quietly explored the idea of opening a campus for 20,000 employees in Northern Virginia, further advancing the possibility that the Washington area could evolve into an East Coast outpost for Silicon Valley.
Apple’s consideration of the region comes eight months after Amazon selected three local jurisdictions there as part of its high-profile search for a North American headquarters outside of Seattle.
Economic development officials under Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed several sites for the project after Apple representatives said the company was seeking 4 million square feet of office space to accommodate 20,000 jobs, according to officials and real estate executives familiar with the discussions.
That amount of space is nearly two-thirds the size of the Pentagon and about half what Amazon is seeking for its second headquarters, potentially setting up a competition between the two tech giants for locations where they can attract top workers.
The sites proposed by Northam’s staff for Apple include office buildings and development sites in Crystal City, privately owned land in Loudoun County, the Center for Innovative Technology and the Scotts Run development in Tysons.
Two of those locations, Crystal City and the Loudoun land, are part of sites Northam also pitched to Amazon. Both companies plan to make a decision this year.
When Amazon narrowed its search to 20 finalist jurisdictions, it included the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, giving the Washington region more entrants than any other. The project attracted subsidy offers of as much as $7 billion from some states, a frenzy of national media attention, and protests from residents worried about the implications of tech’s growth on housing prices, traffic and inequality.
Meanwhile, a report from CNBC on Wednesday said Apple is vetting the Tar Heel State as a site for a new campus in the state’s Research Triangle region that will house technical support staff at first, and possibly expand with other operations.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook is said to have held some meetings with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper last weekend about the possibility of Apple bringing its new campus to the state. Cook, who earned an MBA degree from Duke University, was in Raleigh to deliver the commencement address. Cooper has reportedly been negotiating an incentive package to entice Apple, but such a package is said to still need approval from the North Carolina state legislature.
By conducting its search in relative secrecy, Apple has taken a different tack in seeking its new space, something Cook highlighted in a recent interview when he said “we’re not doing a beauty contest kind of thing.”
“From our point of view, we didn’t want to create this contest, because I think what comes out of that is you wind up putting people through a ton of work to select one, so that is a case where you have a winner and a lot of losers. I don’t like that,” Cook said.
In a subsequent conference call with investors, Cook said the company had begun to focus its search.
“We’ve narrowed the list a lot,” Cook said of potential locations. “We wanted to narrow it so we prevent this auction kind of process that we want to stay out of.”
Apple completed its $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., nicknamed “the spaceship” for its circular design, last spring. More than 12,000 employees work there.
Apple said in January that it planned to spend $30 billion on new facilities and hire 20,000 employees in the U.S. over the next five years, and company officials said much of that growth will come at a new location outside of California and Texas, home to its two largest hubs.
Apple spokespeople declined to comment on whether Northern Virginia was being considered as a location for the campus. Its representatives also have provided scant information beyond its basic criteria to officials and developers.
“They are much more secretive about their process,” one real estate executive said. Another executive said there was the chance for both research and development jobs as well as call center positions.
Apple recently finished its $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., and plans to spend $30 billion on facilities in coming years.