Georgia economic recruiters have worked furiously to meet Thursday’s deadlines for proposals for Amazon’s second headquarters, a $5 billion bonanza offering 50,000 high-paying jobs that could be the biggest economic development deal Atlanta has ever seen.
Monstrous incentives seem a given. Job tax credits alone for Amazon could top $850 million, but Georgia’s pitch will likely climb into the billions with help from “deal-closing funds” the state used to nab prospects such as Caterpillar and Kia. Atlanta, too, has a deal-closing fund of its own.
New transportation funding sources will surely be touted, such as the sales tax increase that will raise $2.5 billion to expand MARTA, and there will be much talk of synergy with other Atlanta-based behemoths. The Beltline, the busy airport, the booming film industry — all will get starring roles in the city’s pitch.
And Georgia is expected to offer a range of promising sites from the downtown area’s Gulch to prime locales along the Beltline. Or in Midtown. Or in the suburbs.
Here’s a look at a few of the potential sites:
The most buzzed about question in Atlanta real estate circles is where Amazon might go. The state set up a website to crowdsource sites, and many communities pitched the state’s top recruiters on their most prized locations. People who handicap site selection have said these are some of the more promising locations for Amazon in the Atlanta area:
The tangle of rail lines and parking lots in downtown between Five Points and Philips Arena has an incentive structure for redevelopment that makes the site appealing, along with its direct MARTA ties. But other than some vacant office space at CNN Center, does the area have enough existing office space to satisfy Amazon’s needs for at least 500,000 square feet of space for the first phase in 2019?
Vacant space in existing buildings is largely scarce, except for Bank of America Plaza and AT&T Midtown Center. State recruiters have inquired about the potential of pitching the AT&T campus, which the telecom giant leases, to Amazon along with a number of nearby parcels that are underdeveloped and available for purchase. An AT&T spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment. The AT&T campus, at the North Avenue MARTA station, is a few blocks south of Georgia Tech’s Technology Square, one of the hottest areas for corporate expansion in the country.
The Eastside trail is one of the city’s hottest areas for redevelopment, including Ponce City Market. The area is not served by transit yet, but plans call for a light rail around the 22-mile loop. Might Amazon be interested in various sites on the loop linked by the trail and future rail network. It wouldn’t be a typical corporate campus, but Amazon is anything but a typical company.
The former Army post is 10 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, has two nearby MARTA stations and plans once called for the site to be a bioscience hub. Most of the post was sold a few years ago to filmmaker Tyler Perry for a movie studio. A redevelopment agency controls about 145 acres and has a master developer.
The former General Motors plant in Doraville, now renamed Assembly, wooed the headquarters of mattress-maker Serta-Simmons Bedding. Could it entice Amazon? Infrastructure upgrades will connect the site to the Doraville MARTA station, and the campus is close to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and is on the Gold Line that connects to Hartsfield-Jackson.
Dunwoody officials are said to have pitched the state on the High Street site, a large tract near Perimeter Mall and the Dunwoody MARTA Station. State Farm is building a corporate campus nearby with a direct connection to the MARTA platform. The property is zoned for office towers, condos, apartments, hotels and retail. The main newsroom of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is in a building on the property.