Donald Bren & Irvine Company make rare public pitch for Amazon’s 2nd headquarters
|| OC Register
“When the titan of e-commerce said it needed a second headquarters, an Orange County titan of real estate said come on down.
Donald Bren, the owner and chairman of the Irvine Company issued a rare statement Thursday after Amazon said it was on the hunt for another base of operations in North America.
“We are uniquely qualified to meet Amazon’s needs,” Bren said in a statement to the Register.
The Irvine Co. will work with Irvine officials to identify specific plans and locations, company spokesman Scott Starkey said.
Amazon has a few must-haves: A prime location, close to transit, with plenty of space to grow.
Irvine officials believe the city would “appear to be the perfect location.”
The city plans to submit a proposal to Amazon, though they don’t have a timeline yet.
City Manager Sean Joyce became aware of “this intriguing opportunity today,” city spokesman Craig Reem said. Joyce has assigned staff to create a proposal, Reem said, but added “there is a lot of work ahead.”
The city, Reem said, would still have to explore where to build the headquarters.
“Irvine is nimble and innovative and ready to leverage our changing economy,” Councilwoman Melissa Fox said.
Amazon said Thursday it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees. It plans to stay in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the new space will be “a full equal” of its current home, said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
Irvine will have to compete with the likes of Los Angeles. Officials there said the city also is planning to bid on the project.
The e-commerce giant has a significant presence in Southern California with warehouses and distributions scattered from Irvine to Moreno Valley. Logistics here also might be favorable with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and cargo airports in Ontario and at LAX.
Amazon’s announcement highlights how fast the company is expanding and is certain to create a scramble among cities and states vying to make the short list. They have a little more than a month to apply through a special website, and the company said it will make a final decision next year.
It didn’t hint about where it might land, but its requirements could rule out some places: It wants to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and wants to be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade. That’s about the same size as its current home in Seattle. Co-headquarters, though, often come about as a result of mergers.
Amazon said its search is open to any metropolitan area in North America that meets the parameters — the city itself doesn’t necessarily have to be a million people — but declined to say how open it was to building outside the U.S.
“We want to find a city that is excited to work with us and where our customers, employees, and the community can all benefit,” the company said on its search website, about why it was choosing its second headquarters through a public process.
Bezos has crowdsourced major decisions before – in June, just before Amazon announced its plan to buy organic grocer Whole Foods, the billionaire took to Twitter seeking ideas for a philanthropic strategy to give away some of his fortune. And tech companies have been known to set places in competition with each other: In vying to land Google’s ultra-fast broadband network, many cities used stunts and gimmickry to get the company’s attention. Topeka even informally renamed itself “Google, Kansas.”
In just the last month, Amazon announced plans to build three new warehouses that pack and ship packages in New York, Ohio and Oregon. And it recently paid close to $14 billion for Whole Foods and its more than 465 stores. The company plans to hire 100,000 people by the middle of next year, adding to its current worldwide staff of more than 380,000.
Amazon’s current campus in Seattle takes up 8.1 million square feet, has 33 buildings and 24 restaurants and is home to more than 40,000 employees. At the second headquarters, Amazon said it will hire up to 50,000 new full-time employees over the next 15 years who would have an average pay of more than $100,000 a year.
Amazon’s website about the search lauds the benefits it can bring to a community. And Amazon’s arrival could transform an area: Until 10 years ago, the neighborhood near Seattle’s campus just north of downtown was dotted with auto parts stores and low-rent apartments. Now the area is a booming pocket of high-rise office complexes, sleek apartment buildings and tony restaurants.
Amazon’s rise has not been without local critics, who say the influx of mostly well-heeled tech workers has caused housing prices to skyrocket, clogged the streets with traffic and changed the city for the worse. The Seattle Times reported Thursday that the median price for a house in August in Seattle was $730,000, up almost 17 percent in a year.”
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| Question: Where is Irvine’s current congress person Rep. Mimi Walters? Missing in action as usual? And curious the Irvine Co. is not working with Walters to get jobs and expand business in Irvine and South Orange County.
We can either let jobs leave SoCal or fight to get some. Irvine is an amazingly vibrant and major high tech hub. So why is Walters supporting driverless cars as a huge social boon? We don’t make such cars in South Orange County. / CJ