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HQ2 isn’t coming to Toronto

So I was wrong. Amazon didn’t pick Toronto for HQ2. It instead picked Crystal City, Virginia (Washington) and Long Island City, NY (New York City). More on that, here, in the NY Times. Confession: My prognostication was at least partially about trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In any event, it’s interesting to consider the locations that they did pick – as well as the fact that they ended up picking multiple cities. This was not part of their RFP. Though, many have convincingly argued that this process was over before it even began. HQ2 was always going to end up on the east coast, near one of Bezos’ homes.

Nevertheless, urbanists such as Aaron Renn took the announcement as a direct repudiation of the American heartland. He believed that Amazon would be far more cost conscious in their decision making and ultimately elect for a lower cost locale in the middle of the country. Instead, the coastal hegemony won out. 

Joe Cortright of City Observatory correctly predicted that Amazon would, for a few reasons, parlay their HQ2 search into multiple smaller locations (HQ2, HQ3, and so on). One of the reasons for this is that it gives the company more leverage when it comes negotiating subsidies on a go-forward basis. If NYC doesn’t want our next round of hires, we’ll take them to Washington.

Looking at the locations, one of the first things I noticed is that both are just outside of their respective “downtowns” (across a body of water), as well as adjacent or on the way to an international airport. Crystal City is across the street from DCA and Long Island City is a 15 minute drive from LGA. Both are situated on top of higher order transit. Makes sense to me.

Now, who wants HQ4?

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