The city of San Jose has delivered a glossy, 41-page proposal to land Amazon's second headquarters, a pitch that highlights options for a sprawling, transit-connected campus across the city.
Officials are pitching three core areas that Amazon could settle in: downtown, the city’s innovation district in North San Jose and a slate of empty office buildings and developable land in South San Jose.
Officials around the country are vying to nab Amazon's $5 billion “HQ2," which the company says has the potential to bring up to 50,000 high-paying jobs with it. Amazon released a request for proposals in early September and bids are due today, Oct. 19.
The Seattle-based giant, which is dangling the prospect of the biggest economic development opportunity in decades in front of cities and having them participate in a beauty contest of sorts to land it, has steep requirements.
Amazon wants to be in a region with at least 1 million people, in close proximity to an international airport and major highways and mass transit. It wants to put the campus in a roughly connected 100-acre “greenfield” site, or land that is not contaminated and is ready for construction. It would also consider infill opportunity, its request for proposals notes, but is quick to add that its campus buildings should be in close proximity to one another at full build-out.
In the near-term, Amazon wants 500,000 square feet of office space in close proximity to 8 million square feet of additional space it could grow into over time.
No subsidies from San Jose
The company has also asked cities to outline what financial incentives each can offer. That's likely to play a big part in its decision-making: Amazon has received more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, subsidies and other financial incentives as its expands its network of distribution and fulfillment centers around the country, a comprehensive analysis by the Silicon Valley Business Journal and our 40 sister publications around the country shows.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has said repeatedly that the city won't give special tax breaks or subsidies to Amazon. In an interview last month with the Business Journal, he seemed almost indifferent to the idea of Amazon picking the 10th largest city as its next home-base, though he was quick to note that he'd support proposals that expand the company's footprint in San Jose.
Indeed, the city's proposal doesn't offer Amazon access to any breaks or incentives that other companies don't have access to. The company would theoretically be able to take part in programs such a rebate program of use tax for major out-of-state purchases or an option to eliminate or delay duty payments on imported items — programs that other companies also have available to them.
The company could get some financial incentives through the state's California Competes Tax Credit, a program Gov. Jerry Brown will attempt to extend for another five years during budget negotiations next year. That could provide Amazon with up to $200 million in credits over five years, state documents show.
"Should California be selected as a potential Amazon HQ2 location, the Administration will work with the Legislature to pass legislation that provides certainty to Amazon in accessing these tax credits," an information packet included with San Jose's bid reads.
Another training program could provide up to $100 million in funding over 10 years, if approved by the Employment Traning Panel, a state agency that helps companies offset costs for skills training.
San Jose zeroes in on the urban core
The city has several options for a company like Amazon to grow a second headquarters as large as 8 million square feet, according to the bid released Thursday.
Officials led their proposal by highlighting San Jose's existing downtown buildings and infill opportunities in the transit-oriented area where Google is also eyeing space for a new, multimillion-square-foot urban campus.
San Jose’s proposal suggests there’s room for the two tech rivals to share the downtown.
While Google’s campus starts at the Diridon Transit Station, the city suggests Amazon’s might start at Coleman Highline, a massive ground-up development along Coleman Avenue, which today has 357,000 square feet of vacant Class A office space split between two buildings. Eventually the site, which is being developed by Cupertino-based Hunter Storm, will be home to eight offices totaling 1.5 million square feet alongside at least one hotel.
“It’s the perfect initial entry point for a large campus user with easy expansion plays into downtown or North San Jose,” the bid reads.
Deeper into downtown, the city has a list of new office development projects in the pipeline, chief among them, the newly approved Museum Place, which will bring a 25-story mixed-use tower to the urban core. Developer Insight Realty is aiming to include 340,000 square feet of office space in the 1.4 million-square-foot building.
The city is also pointing to a set of historic buildings in the urban core that are currently undergoing massive renovations as opportunity sites. Among them, a 100,000-square-foot office tower at 1 W. Santa Clara St., an 84,000-square-foot steel building across the street at 2 W. Santa Clara St. and the nearby 120,000-square-foot Bank of Italy building at 12 N. First St., which officials describe as downtown’s most architecturally significant historic building.
“There are additional options for knitting together an urban campus in our Historic District and we’d love to discuss the possibilities with you,” the city wrote in its bid.