In September, 2017 Amazon announced it was seeking proposals from cities across the country for a second headquarters. In just two short weeks, we were able to support a [powerhouse!] team of local consultants with data and a series of maps to make the case for why #PhiladelphiaDelivers.
Philadelphia is in the Goldilocks zone for Amazon – it possesses all of the key ingredients the company needs to support its long-term growth. The location is central on the Northeast corridor, the talent pool is vast, and Philadelphia has all of the amenities Amazon's employees want, at a lower cost than other big cities.
"Philly is a city that's got an x-factor right now that very few cities can claim. We've got momentum. We've got swagger. Look across the skyline any day of the week. You'll see this city is exploding. And that swagger draws people."
Philadelphia is fortunate in that it has quite a few possible site options. Several sites rose to the top because they meet all of the criteria that Amazon specified - ability to accommodate 8 million square feet of development, mass transit on site, direct access to talent, walking distance to many amenities, etc. In addition to these factors, available KOZs, ease to assemble parcels, and existing master plans are other important factors.
These three urban site options are ready to accommodate Amazon’s full development program immediately. The sites are situated in two neighborhoods, both of which are located within 15 minutes of the Philadelphia International Airport. University City is a world-class innovation district, adjacent to downtown, surrounded by top-ranked universities and anchored by the third busiest train station nationwide. The Navy Yard is a thriving riverfront neighborhood minutes from Center City. It is widely considered the most successful redevelopment of a former military facility in the country, and has plenty of room left to grow. In addition to this criteria, we did not include any parcels under 1,000,000 sqf due to the aggressive growth plans Amazon has articulated for HQ2 (first phase is 500,000+).
We understand but, despite its recent renaissance, Philadelphia has successfully avoided the dramatically accelerated increases in cost of living and urban stresses that many other northeast cities have already experienced. Philadelphia has room for growth with more than double the number of households as Seattle. Analysis by the Philadelphia Planning Department estimated that HQ2 would result in approximately 2,300 new households in the city and 4,600 new households in the region per year over 15 years, comprising less than 0.4% of existing city households and less than 0.3% of households in the region each year. Moreover, the City of Philadelphia has issued building permits for an average of 3,200 new residential units per year since 2012. At that rate, direct and indirect “Amazon households” would comprise less than half of the city’s expected growth. Amazon is committed to working with Philadelphia to ensure long-term equitable and balanced growth.