How Dallas is making a big play for Amazon’s second North American headquarters

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Dallas-Fort Worth leaders are stepping up in a big way in hopes of luring Amazon.com Inc.’s proposed $5 billion second North American headquarters to the region.

The Seattle-based online retail giant announced Thursday it would begin a national real estate search for a major North American city to house its second corporate headquarters, and executives are reviewing bid materials to put together options for Amazon.

The region is already home to millions of square feet of distribution, warehouse and office space for Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), including a growing North Dallas regional office in the Galleria Towers.

"The Dallas Regional Chamber has communicated to Amazon our intent to respond to the RFP for Amazon HQ2," Mike Rosa, senior vice president for economic development at the Dallas Regional Chamber, told the Dallas Business Journal.

"We are in reviewing the RFP and look forward to showcasing for Amazon the many reasons why there is no better place than right here for Amazon’s HQ2," he added.

The Dallas Regional Chamber is working alongside North Texas cities and the development community to identify some of the best sites for the potential Amazon HQ2 campus, which is expected to employ up to 50,000 workers as the online retailer continues to grow its operations.

"We’ve already contacted Amazon to express our interest and have proceeded to their prescribed next step," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in a statement to the Dallas Business Journal."We will aggressively demonstrate that Dallas and our surrounding area would be the perfect spot for their expansive business needs."

The second North American headquarters could have a significant economic impact on the region, with Amazon.com estimating its investment impact in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 at $38 billion.

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said he expects HQ2 to be equal in size and scope to its Seattle headquarters, with "billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs."

Dallas-Fort Worth has a few cities right in Amazon.com’s sweet spot for consideration. The online retailer is looking at major North American cities with more than 1 million people in either urban or suburban locations to build a 33-building, 8.1 million-square-foot corporate campus on about 100 acres.

The bids are due to Amazon.com on Oct. 19th, with final selections expected to occur in 2018.

The second campus will be an important move for Amazon.com, which is expected to grow with its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market. It could give the West Coast retailer a more central location in North America, and a platform to take the company to the next level, real estate sources say.

Since 2013, the online retailer has added 10 fulfillment centers in Texas with more than 10,000 full-time workers in its seven existing facilities in Coppell, Haslet, Dallas, Fort Worth, Schertz and San Marcos.

That tie to Fort Worth could be a good place for Amazon.com to build a long-term relationship. The city’s officials — much like officials in other North Texas cities — are putting together a game plan to showcase its talented workforce and 70,000 acres of developable land.

"We are actively involved in developing a strategy to help recruit Amazon’s new headquarters to Fort Worth," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. "I am excited about showcasing the many reasons Fort Worth has become known as a logistics, distribution and corporate headquarters hub."

Real estate sources say the company has also recently doubled the size of its North Texas regional offices within the Galleria Towers in North Texas.

That rapid growth could bode well for large-scale developments seeking an anchor tenant. The proposed Dallas Midtown project — within eyesight of the Galleria Towers, and Amazon’s regional office — could emerge as an option for Amazon.

"With close proximity to the Amazon distribution facilities and DFW Airport, Dallas Midtown would make a perfect home for Amazon," Dallas developer Scott Beck told the Dallas Business Journal."Amazon has an opportunity to create an Amazon connected city in Dallas Midtown, including naming the new Dallas Midtown Park."

Amazon.com has a history of redeveloping urban sites — like the proposed Dallas Midtown — into a vision fit for a destination-style headquarters. In Seattle, the retailer converted a former hospital into part of its corporate campus.

Recently, Dallas developer Sam Ware snapped up the former Parkland Hospital adjacent to the new facility with plans to develop a mixed-use destination called ‘The District.’ The property includes adjacent land slated for ground-up development.

The possibilities are endless in North Texas, which is known for its sprawling landscape. But real estate sources say the decision will likely come down to finding the right tech and logistics talent needed to help Amazon.com continue its growth into the future.

And real estate sources say they are happy to help Amazon.com find its second home.

"It seems like this is an incentive and site selection search first," said Colin Fitzgibbons, vice president of Dallas-based KDC, the firm which recently completed developing Toyota North American’s campus in Plano. "We’d love to help in any way we can."

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