When Amazon.com Inc. announced they were going to be searching for a second headquarter location, Addison, like many communities throughout the country, began devouring the request for proposal (RFP) prepared by the company. The RFP highlighted the attributes Amazon is searching for in a potential community. To the winner would come 50,000 new full-time jobs with average wages of over $100,000 annually and a potential capital investment of over $5 billion. This will very easily be the largest economic development project of the decade.
A project this size would be phased in over several years, and from a real estate point alone, the requirements are enormous. To start, Amazon will need an existing building by 2019 with approximately 500,000 square feet of space, which equates to a building about the size of Mary Kay’s Global Headquarters. Over the next ten years, they will need expansion space to accommodate eight million square feet of space. To put this into local perspective, the company would eventually absorb eight Colonnade Office Complexes or 16 buildings the size of Mary Kay’s headquarters. This means that the ideal real estate site must be able to accommodate not only their initial request in two years, but also have approximately 100 acres of quality land available nearby.
In addition to their real estate requirements, the company emphasized the need for public transportation, and a site that promotes walkability that sustains a live, work, and play environment similar to their environment in Seattle. Amazon is committed to sustainability efforts. There are few existing locations that can meet this initial need in the region, but there are a few locations with plans already in place for speculative building construction to accommodate the initial request of 500,000 square feet of space.
The Dallas Regional Chamber has taken the lead on submitting a formal proposal to Amazon for our region. They have reached out to local communities and asked each to submit potential sites that “meet or exceed” Amazon’s requirements. Working with the Addison City Manager’s Office, the Economic Development & Tourism Department looked at aerial maps to identify an ideal site within our city limits. As much as we would like to be a part of the site selection process, we quickly realized we simply don’t have a site that would meet the company’s requirements. The largest undeveloped property in Addison is only 11.6 acres and other areas slated for redevelopment would not meet the company’s timeline requirements.
Our next thought was . . . Is there a site close to Addison that could accommodate Amazon’s needs? Having them nearby would allow Addison to reap the indirect benefits. A project this size would bring a cadre of other companies that would want to be near their client. A project this size would also prioritize the need for more public transportation connectivity such as the Cotton Belt, and a project this size would increase our nearby labor force with high average wages that would benefit our restaurant and retail sector.
Enter the Midtown Redevelopment Project. The more we thought about the project, the more it became evident that the Midtown Redevelopment Project would be ideal for Amazon. Its central location along Interstate 635 with easy access to the Dallas North Tollway and Central Expressway makes it easily accessible to the millions of residents that North Texas home, as well as the existing Amazon employees at the Galleria Towers. Midtown is a short distance to the company’s existing fulfillment centers and to DFW Airport, Love Field, and the Addison Airport. It is also near institutions of higher education including UT-Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Brookhaven College and Richland College. More importantly, the site is literally a stone’s throw away from Addison.
It soon became clear that the Midtown Redevelopment Project was a strong contender for Amazon which is why the Town of Addison partnered with our neighbor, Farmers Branch, to provide a letter of support for the site to the Dallas Regional Chamber. By demonstrating our support, it strengthens the case for the site by showing a multi-city collaborative effort. When it is all said and done, this is what will be needed to reel in a big fish like Amazon to the region.