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Philly’s official Amazon HQ2 bid names University City, Navy Yard as possible sites

“We’re gonna win this”

uCity Square (above), Schuylkill Yards, and the Navy Yard are the three sites Philly is pitching for Amazon HQ2.
Rendering by ZGF Architects LLP/Omega

Philly is officially in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters, after the city submitted its pitch to the e-commerce giant today complete with a new website, a series of hype videos, dozens of letters of support, and three proposed sites for HQ2.

“I just want to say, we’re gonna win this," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

The mayor was at the Barnes Foundation this morning to thank the hundreds of people who played a role in creating the city’s pitch to bring Amazon and its estimated $5 billion headquarters and 50,000 new jobs to Philadelphia.

Philly’s official bid establishes itself as being in the "Goldilocks" zone for Amazon, or as Mayor Kenney put it, "Just right." It proposes three locations in two Philly neighborhoods for Amazon’s second headquarters that should not come as a surprise: University City’s Schuylkill Yards and uCity Square, and the Navy Yard.

The trio was chosen because all sites are ready for development. The $1 billion uCity Square’s development in University City is already under construction, and Schuylkill Yards, a $3.5 billion development of Drexel and Brandywine Realty Trust, has permits in hand. Navy Yard has already attracted hundreds of companies to its large site on the Delaware River and continues to expand.

The city also launched an immersive website that include the official bid, interactive maps, the three proposed sites, and all of the videos that tout Philly’s livability, talent, and logistics, with cameos from restauranteurs and entrepreneurs to Penn’s president Amy Gutmann to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

More than 200 local business leaders, as well as various community development groups, students, and people from all over the city participated in the creation of the bid. Although the the announcement was made six weeks ago, much of the bid process was squeezed into three weeks, said Marc Coleman of Tactile Group, which developed the website.

Amazon first broke the internet a little over a month ago when it announced that it was looking for a new place in North America for its second headquarters. It is currently located in Seattle on a 8.1-million-square-foot campus.

The requirements included a location within a North American city and metro area of more than one million people that could attract and retain tech talent. And of course, enough land to build its mega-campus.

Philly was one of the first cities to pitch itself as a “prime” location from Amazon HQ2. Over the past few weeks the city put out an open call to residents to help shape its proposal, started a social media campaign called #PhillyDelivers, and finally, published a series of videos in the final days leading up to the October 19 deadline that touted its location, transit systems, talent pool, and livability.

Mayor Jim Kenney says, “We’re gonna win this,” at the reveal of Philadelphia’s bid for Amazon HQ2.
Photo by Melissa Romero

Even one of the city’s biggest developments, the 30th Street Station District Plan, was temporarily put on hold due in light of the Amazon news; it’s located next to the Schuylkill Yards.

But Philly is in the same boat as a whole bunch of other cities and towns vying for Amazon’s attention. Its closest competitors include Delaware County, Bensalem, Camden, Atlantic City, and Wilmington, Delaware. Pennsylvania in general said it plans to offer more than $1 billion in tax breaks to Amazon if it chooses any city in the state.

Still, most recent analyses pit Philly as one of the top contenders for Amazon. Moody’s Analytics, for example, ranked it among the top three metros for HQ2, primarily due to its ideal location on the Eastern seaboard.

Kenney said that regardless of whether or not Amazon picks Philly, “I’ve never been more proud of our city and the region.” He said he wants to build off the momentum of the Amazon HQ2 bid and continue meeting with local businesses that “currently call Philadelphia home.”

All that’s left is to wait and see. Amazon is not expected to make a decision until next year.

uCity Square

Filbert Street, , PA 19104 Visit Website

The Navy Yard

4747 South Broad Street, , PA 19112 Visit Website