Today, Amazon celebrated the grand opening of its highly anticipated second headquarters (or HQ2) offices in Arlington, VA. In May, the company welcomed the first wave of employees. The company’s 2.1 million-square-foot campus, Metropolitan Park, comprises two 22-story office buildings (named Jasper and Merlin), public parks and playgrounds, retail space for 14 locally owned businesses, and amenities for the community, including a half mile of protected bike lanes and pedestrian walkways. This new complex changes the shape of the world’s largest retailer’s office spaces and heightens opportunity for its employees and clients. But Amazon HQ2 is also set to transform the National Landing community, as well as the surrounding region.
Initially, Amazon HQ2 will house 8,000 Amazonians, and the second headquarters will eventually house 25,000 workers by 2030. The buildings will run with no operational carbon emissions and will be powered by 100% renewable energy from a nearby solar farm.
The arrival of Amazon HQ2 is already promising to be a game-changer for the Arlington, VA region, not only because of the company’s sheer scope and size, but also for several development aspects that are already in motion. These include housing, transportation, education investment, and growth potential for other area businesses.
Christian Dorsey, Chair of the Arlington County Board, shared insight with Business Facilities, stating: “Amazon’s HQ2 project is catalyzing the emergence of a dynamic downtown — National Landing — which integrates our Pentagon City and Crystal City neighborhoods. HQ2 has spurred other private investment nearby including a revamped urban park with a distinctive water feature, thousands of new housing units, and street activating retail.”
Affordable Housing Solutions: Housing will undergo a transformation. With Amazon’s commitment to creating affordable housing options in the area, Arlington County plans to invest $7 million per year for the next 10 years to create 100 affordable housing units. This is part of the larger plan of Arlington and Alexandria to invest $150 million over the next decade to create 2,200 to 2,400 affordable housing units, making housing more accessible for the community.
Explains Dorsey, “Amazon has helped meet a key County priority, securing more affordable housing in areas that could be vulnerable to displacement with continued economic growth. By loaning hundreds of millions of dollars in Arlington, they are contributing to the preservation and construction of thousands of affordable units, many within walking distance of HQ2, and their example with retail leasing at Met Park has spurred others to curate retail experiences, with local, women, and minority owned businesses proving that economic growth can be inclusive.”
Revitalized Transportation: The company’s projected 70% to 80% use of public transit, walk, or bike to work has prompted Arlington to invest $369 million in transportation projects. This includes adding a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro Station and the Alexandria Potomac Yard Metro station, along with creating a multimodal connection between Crystal City/VRE/Metro/National Airport and changes to Route 1 in Crystal City.
As Dorsey points out, “Met Park’s transportation improvements are part of broad public and private investments to encourage more walking and biking, including what will be a first of its kind pedestrian bridge connecting the neighborhood to Washington Reagan National Airport.”
Investment in STEM: Virginia has invested over $1 billion in the future of STEM, including $25 million in K-12 STEM programs and a $375 million dollar-for-dollar matching grant for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and George Mason University’s computer science program.
Thriving Economy: With Amazon’s presence in Arlington, more businesses are flocking to the area to take advantage of the thriving economy. From a doggie daycare to a cycle studio, bike shop, and a range of sit-down and grab-and-go restaurants, the community is seeing a flourishing economy and a further diversified neighborhood.