Amazon near our river?

Published 10:42 pm Friday, October 13, 2017

Near the confluence of the Nansemond and James rivers, officials may be trying to lure a well known company named after a much bigger river.

Online retailing giant Amazon is on the hunt for a second North American headquarters to complement its Seattle, Wash., campus, and last month sent out a request for proposals urging suitors to “think big and creatively.” Proposals are due Oct. 19.

A report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this week, citing unnamed sources, identified Suffolk’s Harbour View area as one of three sites Hampton Roads will pitch. Virginia as a whole will propose 10 sites, with three in the Richmond area and the other four in Northern Virginia, according to the reports.

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Local and regional officials remained mum about the reports on Friday.

“We just don’t get into those sort of details,” Suffolk Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said. “It’s a policy for us when we’re courting or working with companies until we’re both in agreement to share details.”

Hughes did, however, acknowledge being “very familiar” with Amazon’s request for proposals.

“We support the state as well as the opportunity for the region to compete,” he said.

Rick Weddle, president and chief executive officer of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, was similarly tight-lipped.

“I cannot comment on specific economic development projects,” he wrote in an email.

According to Amazon’s request for proposals, the second headquarters will be similar to Seattle’s campus, where it operates 33 buildings with 8.1 million square feet. The employees are served with 24 restaurants and eight other services on site.

The second headquarters could include as many as 50,000 jobs with an average annual salary topping six figures, the request for proposal states. Construction investment alone would be more than $5 billion.

The second headquarters will be a lucrative deal for whatever locality lands the headquarters, according to the request for proposals. Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle from 2010 to 2016 resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy.

Harbour View is well situated in some aspects of Amazon’s preferences. It wants a site within one to two miles of major highways and arterial roads, within 45 minutes of an international airport and no more than 30 miles to a population center.

But Amazon also wants access to mass transit at the site. Only a handful of bus routes currently serve the North Suffolk area through Suffolk Transit.

The site will be selected and announced next year, according to a timeline on Amazon’s request for proposals.