The ATX

Austin Catalyst Project - Amazon HQ2 Option?

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This project first came to light in May, and would appear to be the perfect candidate for Austin's Amazon HQ2 bid.  It's on 79 acres just SE of Downtown and adjacent to the large U/C Oracle campus.  It's literally a second Downtown and would seem to fit with everything Amazon is looking for in their HQ2.  Room for 50K employees would not be a problem.  Keep in mind that these renderings are pre-Amazon, and more office space could be added.  Those buildings in the lower left corner of the first rendering are also part of this project.  These renderings are from a Vimeo promo video that I just stumbled upon.

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Vimeo video

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A developer bought up a lot of real estate next to this project and marketed it as a corporate campus.  Shortly after that, Oracle came calling for an Austin campus and bought that real estate as well as a neighboring apartment building.  This project is being marketed as a corporate campus as well, and now Amazon is looking for a major campus.  We can only hope this works out for Amazon.  But if it doesn't, this is still an amazing massive project.  Here are some more renderings from the Vimeo video linked to in the OP:  

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When I read about the Amazon HQ2 I immediately thought Austin would be the perfect location. The only 2 drawbacks, looking from afar, is the lack of light rail in Austin (at least I don't think Austin has light rail) and I think Amazon is looking east coast. Dude, if Austin could get Amazon contingent upon building out a light rail system..........imagine the possibilities. TOD out the wazoo for sure. I'm rooting for Austin (and Norfolk/VA Beach of course :D)

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2 hours ago, carolinaboy said:

When I read about the Amazon HQ2 I immediately thought Austin would be the perfect location. The only 2 drawbacks, looking from afar, is the lack of light rail in Austin (at least I don't think Austin has light rail) and I think Amazon is looking east coast. Dude, if Austin could get Amazon contingent upon building out a light rail system..........imagine the possibilities. TOD out the wazoo for sure. I'm rooting for Austin (and Norfolk/VA Beach of course :D)

The DC Metro (NOVA) was my first thought about where HQ2 would go.  But Boston is looking more likely now.  I think the majority of Austin folks would probably not want it anyway.  But I'm not one of them. :) The anti-growth sentiment is strong here.

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This is a far cry from HQ2.  But Amazon is opening their first Texas bricks and mortar bookstore in the Domain development in North Austin.  The Domain is also home to Amazon's current Austin corporate offices.  This quote is from a L.A. Times article about it:   

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The Amazon store in Austin's tony Domain Northside shopping center will be 12 miles from BookPeople, the 47-year-old indie downtown, and 10 miles from Malvern Books, a small bookstore near the University of Texas. The Domain is already home to one of Amazon's corporate offices.

 

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I was trying to figure out the size of Amazon's current Austin workforce.   I haven't seen a reliable count, and the Whole Foods purchase accounts for most of them.  But I think there are around 4,000 which would make Amazon one of the largest local private employers:

Whole Foods HQ and five metro grocery stores:  ~ 2,500

Suburban Amazon fulfillment center : ~1,000

Amazon's Austin corporate offices:  ~500

 

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This thread is becoming the repository for all things Amazon.  Amazon has a "Treasure Truck" that they drive around town carrying merchandise for "special deals".  Anyone can sign up for the service and receive text messages about specific deals and the truck's location.  They've publicly announced that their first location will be at a Whole Foods store (no surprise there), and the deal will be for a Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

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KXAN

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On 9/28/2017 at 8:40 AM, The ATX said:

I was trying to figure out the size of Amazon's current Austin workforce.   I haven't seen a reliable count, and the Whole Foods purchase accounts for most of them.  But I think there are around 4,000 which would make Amazon one of the largest local private employers:

Whole Foods HQ and five metro grocery stores:  ~ 2,500

Suburban Amazon fulfillment center : ~1,000

Amazon's Austin corporate offices:  ~500

 

Since  I posted this last week, we've learned that Amazon's Austin corporate workforce has increased to 900, and they have 100 more job openings.  Through an open records request, the Statesman learned that Amazon contacted city officials this past summer about expanding in Austin.  "Project Rainforest" is the name given the expansion plans, and of course city and chamber officials won't comment.  This is from the article:

Quote

Documents obtained by the American-Statesman show that local economic development officials communicated with an Amazon executive over the summer to discuss a possible expansion of Amazon’s local operations. The documents were obtained through an open records request made to the city.

The potential expansion — dubbed “Project Rainforest” in emails exchanged between Amazon executives, city of Austin officials and representatives of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce ...

 But the article does go on to say that there is nothing to connect this to HQ2.

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Amazon's Austin Metro employment is significantly higher than what I had listed in my previous post.  The Fulfillment center now has over 3,000 according to this KXAN article about HQ2.  Amazon's total Austin employment breaks out this way:  

San Marcos Fulfillment Center:   3,000+

Whole Foods including six area stores:  2,500 (but probably higher)

Corporate offices in the Domain development in North Austin:   900 and counting with around 200 open jobs

Project Rainforest:  ?

So that's 6,400 workers and counting.

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One of the locations of Austin's HQ2 bid was made public today the developer in an Austin Business Journal article.  (I didn't post the article link because it's behind a paywall.)  It wasn't the Project Catalyst site.  It happened to be the site that I thought would be the best option for Austin's HQ2 - Brandywine's 66 acre Broadmoor project. 

I've posted about Broadmoor before in the Proposed Projects thread.  But it's a 66 acre development in North Austin that is in the process of getting a zoning change to allow for 360' towers.  The site is also home to an IBM campus with 6,000 employees and a future Red Line commuter rail stop and adjacent to a large, growing Charles Schwab campus.  The Red Line would connect this site to a probable second Amazon location downtown.  But more importantly, it is across the street from the Domain which is home to Amazon's current Austin corporate operations that now totals close to 1,000 employees.   Brandywine is also part of Philadelpia's HQ2 bid.

Here is a vision rendering of the site from last year I believe.  With the zoning change, the new density and height will put this vision to shame.

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Brandywine Flipbook

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Austin's chances for HQ2 took a dive.  It was revealed today that the city is offering no incentives to Amazon.  Austin now has a lengthy public process before offering  incentives which couldn't be done for the Austin proposal.   Plus the anti-growth sentiment has taken over IMO, and the people here would largely prefer that companies stop moving here.   

Article

 

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Amazon did specify an urban or suburban location.  Everyone seems to focusing just on urban locations in these discussions.  The Austin bid contained between 40 and 50 sites.  Austin and Texas are tight lipped about the bid as they usually are in relocation projects.  But one of the 40+ sites in Austin's bid is a 400 acre suburban location that comes with $242 million in local incentives.   The site and incentive info was leaked by the city government of the suburb. 

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