Crystal City in Northern Virginia remains favored to land thousands of Amazon jobs as part of the company's planned expansion, but close to the process they are now expecting the project's 50,000 jobs to break at least two cities – an abrupt last-minute change to a search that has lasted more than a year.
The possibility of dividing the project has been discussed with officials in Virginia. Virginia officials are ready to make an announcement soon, once Amazon makes its final decision, according to people close to the talks.
One individual close to the process said Amazon has been released, and another said it was just a week ago. A third person, who said he had been a friend of Amazon, had not been able to
Amazon declined to comment, other than to reaffirm the company's commitment to make a decision this year. Arlington County and the office of Gov. Ralph Northam (D) so declined to comment.
(Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
It remains unclear how many – if any – other cities remain in contention. The New York Times reported Monday that the project was expected to go to Long Island, in Queens. The offices of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) did not respond to requests for comment.
While much of the country focused on the midterm elections, officials on the condition of anonymity because they had not signed. There were no signs that the District or Montgomery County, or that the Crystal City and nearby Potomac Yard in the City of Alexandria were still considered considered.
In Dallas, the parent company of the Dallas Morning News has submitted an "order into an Amazon Agreement."
A spokesman for the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is handling the city's bid, declined to comment.
Seattle campus, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, said that Amazon had started to compete among cities only to change the rules midstream. Some said it was unfair the company seemed to be looking at sites in more affluent communities.
Amazon launches the project in the fall of 2017, dubbing it HQ2 and issuing search criteria for "a second corporate headquarters" with as many as 50,000 jobs.
"Due to the successful growth of the Company, it now requires a second corporate headquarters in North America," the request-for-proposals read.
Bezos personally reiterated the scope of the project in a news release: "We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters," he said.
Urban studies author and academic Richard florida called the process a "sham" that forced cities and states to "cough up incentives."
Greg Leroy of the Washington-based advocacy group Good Jobs First, said jurisdictions offering fixed-cost subsidies to Amazon – as well as paying the same amount for fewer jobs.
"I think it's not very interesting if there are any promises of special deals on the table," Leroy said.
50,000 qualified workers – many of them computer engineers – in a single region. Concerns about the pressure Amazon's growth could put on housing, transportation networks and schools so could all.
"By choosing two cities, Amazon does not want to drive the cost of labor as much as they may have by focusing their demand on a single metro area," said Heidi Learner, chief economist at the advisory firm Savills Studley.
"Maybe it's good," said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Politics and Government at George Mason University. "A lot of people were worried about too much strain on local resources, capacity, schools, housing costs."
In Virginia and New York, the public remains largely in the dark about what has been offered to the company. New York officials have said they have not made it to any other companies, but they have announced that it will move $ 180 million in infrastructure improvements to Long Island City – which would support Amazon's campus if it moved there.
After the Washington Post reported Saturday Amazon was close to a deal for Crystal City, state Del. Lee J. Carter (D-Manassas) posted a question on Twitter: "Can not wait to find out how much public money we're coughing up for this. And if you think NoVA is expensive now, just wait until we cram in HQ2! "
After the story published, Amazon's director of economic development, Mike Grella, tweeted that Virginia officials were treating their nondisclosure agreement "like a used napkin," which appeared to have a chilling effect on officials.
Officials in Virginia still expect Amazon to make a decision this month, if not in coming days. Once they do, they will leave in one jurisdiction.
"I think we've got a while that that something they were considering," said one official from a finalist jurisdiction on the split. "I would not say we were wronged. For one thing we got millions in free advertising. "
Meanwhile, potential winners were preparing to make the best of the surprising turn of events.
Stephen Fuller, a regional economist at George Mason University, said "I'm certain there would be some disappointment." "Everybody is going for the run, and maybe it's just a double. It still would be very significant. Who else is bringing 25,000 jobs? "
Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.