Insiders are buzzing that northern Virginia could soon be awarded Amazon’s HQ2 as Jeff Bezos makes a high-profile visit to Washington, DC

  • The Washington, DC, area is buzzing with speculation that northern Virginia could soon land Amazon‘s second headquarters, known as HQ2.
  • Two sources said as much to Business Insider.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is on a high-profile trip to Washington, DC.

The Washington, DC, area is buzzing with speculation that Amazon could soon select northern Virginia as the location for its highly sought-after second headquarters, two sources told Business Insider.

Amazon has sought to tamp down on that speculation as the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, makes a high-profile visit to the region. On Tuesday, ahead of a major event on Thursday night where Bezos will be interviewed by the Carlyle Group cofounder David Rubenstein at the DC Economic Club, Amazon told The Washington Post that no announcement would be forthcoming during Bezos’ visit to the city. Reached by Business Insider on Thursday, an Amazon representative said they had nothing to add on top of what was reported by The Post.

One person who spoke with Business Insider, a lobbyist, said that the Thursday-night event was a likely time for the announcement to be made. There has for months been speculation about what, if anything, Bezos will say about HQ2 during the event.

The Post reported that roughly 1,550 people registered to attend Bezos’ discussion, or more than double what the club typically attracts for similar events. The newspaper added that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, and DC’s Democratic mayor, Muriel Bowser, were all expected to attend.

(Have any information on Amazon’s plans for HQ2? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected])

David Rubenstein
David Rubenstein. Bloomberg, screenshot

The event’s top sponsorship, by the Washington Housing Initiative, was paid for by JBG Smith, a local developer and key backer of a plan to bring HQ2 to Crystal City in northern Virginia.

The second person who spoke with Business Insider, a senior staffer for a Virginia politician, said Amazon was zeroing in on Crystal City.

JBG Smith declined to comment to Business Insider.

Meanwhile, a source close to Rubenstein told Business Insider they were unaware of any plans for Bezos to make the announcement during the interview.

Business Insider reached out to multiple local developers, county officials, and would-be stakeholders in an HQ2 based in northern Virginia; all either declined to comment, did not respond, or said they had not heard of any imminent announcement.

Joseph Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said the Thursday-night event had for a while been targeted by observers as one where some HQ2 action could take place. Parilla, who said he had no knowledge of any imminent announcement, added that the northern Virginia bid has long been viewed as the frontrunner.

Though Amazon said no announcement would be made on Bezos’ trip this week, four people close to the company’s board of directors told The Post that board members were making the trek to Washington, DC. The Post reported that it was unclear whether any formal meeting of the board was being held. Amazon had booked the Renwick Gallery for a 40-person dinner on Tuesday night, a museum spokesman told the newspaper, declining to offer any additional details.

Northern Virginia is already considered the top contender

There are already plenty of signs pointing to the northern Virginia bid as the one that will ultimately prove victorious.

Oddsmakers have given northern Virginia the best chances of pulling in HQ2, and GeekWire found last week that Virginia had the highest average number of open Amazon job postings from May through July of any of the HQ2 finalists.

Amazon told Business Insider it remains committed to announcing the winner before the end of 2018.

In March, Business Insider reported on mounting evidence that HQ2 would ultimately be awarded to northern Virginia and be built on a 26-acre plot of largely undeveloped land near Dulles International Airport.

Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson wrote that the company was quietly expanding its presence near that site on the border of Loudoun and Fairfax counties.

Less than 3 miles from that site is a new headquarters for Amazon Web Services, and the company plans to build a 600,000-square-foot data-center campus on a 44-acre plot of land within a 10-minute drive of the possible HQ2 location.

In addition to the plot’s location next to the airport, an under-construction Metro station will provide direct access to Washington, DC, and its suburbs.

The site is also at the center of Data Center Alley, described as “the bull’s-eye of America’s internet” through which much of the world’s internet traffic travels.

Additionally, a site adjacent to the proposed HQ2 location is being developed into a 5.5 million-square-foot mixed-use project called The Hub. That project is expected to house office and retail space, residential units, and hotel rooms, and its developers were involved in the northern Virginia HQ2 bid.

Olivia Oran contributed reporting.