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What we know about Amazon’s potential new Virginia HQ2 location

The new headquarters would be close to the airport, but would be an expensive place to live.

Workers surround the signature glass spheres under construction at the Amazon’s original corporate headquarters back in 2017 in Seattle. David Ryder / Getty Images
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon is in advanced talks about putting Amazon’s second headquarters, commonly referred to as HQ2, in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia, according to the Washington Post.

The larger D.C. area was considered a likely candidate for HQ2 due to its proximity to CEO Jeff Bezos’s home and, more importantly, federal lawmakers. Three of Amazon’s 20 finalists were located there — Washington, D.C., Montgomery County and Northern Virginia — suggesting that the place had a better chance than others.

Here’s what we know about the area:

  • Arlington County is home to about 230,000 people and has seen a 13 percent population increase in the last decade, according to the Census Bureau. For comparison, that’s about the same as Madison, Wisconsin or Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • Arlington’s median home price, $592,000, is much higher than the national median of $275,000 according to residential real estate company Trulia. Still, that’s cheaper than the $699,000 median home price in Seattle, where Amazon’s current headquarters is based.
  • Its cost for office space is cheaper than the national average. In Northern Virginia, top-of-the-line central office space costs $35.40 per square foot — lower than the national average of $37.35 and Seattle’s average of $38.73, according to Q2 2018 estimates by commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.
  • At 19.4 percent, its vacancy rate for Class A office space is also higher than the U.S. average of 12.3 percent, meaning that it will be easier than average for Amazon to lease space there. It’s much more difficult to find office space in Seattle, whose vacancy rate is under 8 percent.
  • It’s an 11-minute commute, including a metro ride, from the center of Crystal City to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the preferred D.C. airport. That’s faster than most other HQ2 cities. It takes about 22 minutes by car — without traffic — and nearly 50 minutes by mass transit to reach the Seattle airport from Amazon’s original headquarters.
  • Crystal City is also an 11-minute drive to Capitol Hill without much traffic.
  • The average wage for tech talent in nearby D.C. is $111,111 a year — the second-most-expensive finalist city after New York, according to real estate research company CBRE. It’s a little less than the $117,000 a year tech workers are paid in Seattle.
  • D.C. ranked third among U.S. cities as the best place for tech talent in CBRE’s annual roundup. Seattle ranked No. 2 this year.
  • It’s located near many higher-education institutions, including Georgetown, George Washington and American universities.

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