Amazon chooses Crystal City, Virginia for one of two new headquarters


Graphic by Selina Ding.

By Zara Ali

Amazon announced Nov. 13 that their two new East Coast headquarters will be in Crystal City, Virginia and Queens, New York. Amazon received 238 bids from cities and regions across the country for the headquarters, including Montgomery County. The new headquarters in Crystal City will bring in more state revenue, but it’ll also increase the population in an already congested area, Arlington County chair member Katie Cristol said.

Amazon selected Crystal City because of its commercial and central location near the nation’s capital and airport, an Amazon press release said. Northern Virginia provided economic incentives—with direct subsidies—estimated to amount to $573 million.

“Virginia and Arlington will benefit from more than 25,000 full-time high-paying jobs; approximately $2.5 billion in Amazon investment; 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space; and an estimated incremental tax revenue of $3.2 billion over the next 20 years as a result of Amazon’s investment and job creation,” Amazon claimed in the press release Nov. 13.

As a result of the increasing number of people working in the region, realtors predict the current housing prices in the Alexandria-Arlington area will rise significantly. Similar to what took place in Seattle, the location of Amazon’s original headquarters, the development will boost housing prices in an already expensive neighborhood with high interest rates, realtor Paige Patterson said. Mostly millennials in their 20s and 30s will be looking for housing in Northern Virginia, close to work as well as shops and bars, Patterson said.

“Employees coming are going to initially rent, so we are going to see an increase in rentals first and after they have been here for two years they will start to decide if they want to buy houses,” Patterson said. “That price range market of $400,000 and $700,000 will feel the pressure first.”

Current residents of Arlington and Alexandria like Spanish teacher Madeline Golding are lucky because they can gain more profit off of their houses when renting or selling because of the high demand in the real estate market, Patterson said.

“We eventually plan on renting out our house, and it will affect us because we will make more on our property because more people will be looking at property for a place to live,” Golding said.

The traffic around Northern Virginia is expected to increase, affecting Virginia residents that work in Maryland like English teacher Michelle Quackenbush. Arlington and Alexandria are already congested, so the influx of new residents will make traffic worse, Cristol said. The traffic will likely not affect most Montgomery County residents because it will mostly center around D.C. and Virginia, Quackenbush said.

Quackenbush hopes Amazon will make strategic choices about work hours for employees to alleviate traffic, like the Pentagon does by staggering peoples’ work days.

Amazon expects to bring hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue from property taxes on office buildings the Virginia government uses, and half of it will continue to fund K-12 education, Cristol said. Amazon’s new location will also promote technology education at the secondary education level and higher.

“The state is investing money into a new campus for Virginia Tech, which will include training programs for teachers in the technology field,” Cristol said. “We will see some of the cutting edge teacher training in our public schools as teachers will bring new ideas about cloud computers and robotics to the K-12 system.”

The headquarters will provide more internship opportunities for Maryland, D.C, and Virginia students, Cristol said.

Arlington’s city has endured holes in their budget over the past few years because few companies choose to rent office space in the area, with office vacancy rates reaching 20 percent, according to Cristol. Cristol believes Amazon will provide for a more economically stable future for Arlington.

“Amazon means a vision of Crystal City that has more retail, has more people out and about during the day, and that feels like a more dynamic place to work and live,” Cristol said. “We are really hoping that Amazon is going to build on what we are starting to see shoot up in the tech center in Crystal City and Virginia more broadly.”