Everything we know about Amazon's HQ2 development in Long Island City, Queens

PlaxallA rendering of a potential mixed-used neighbourhood along the Anable Basin.
  • Amazon will divide its second headquarters, known as HQ2, in half between the National Landing area of Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, Queens.
  • In Long Island City, Amazon workers will first move into a 50-story office tower that’s currently being occupied by Citigroup.
  • The move is a temporary measure as Amazon develops a 4 to 8 million-square-foot headquarters surrounding the Anable Basin.
  • The owner of the land, Plaxall, recent put forth a proposal for how the site could be developed – but Amazon may have its own ideas.

Amazon is headed to Queens. After more than year of silent negotiations, the company finally landed on the winners of its second North American headquarters. The new HQ2 will be divided into two sites: the newly-minted National Landing area of Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, Queens.

A mere hours after the announcement was made, Citigroup revealed that it was handing over space in a 50-story office building to make way for the retail giant. The tower, known as One Court Square, has become an iconic fixture of the Long Island City skyline, thanks to its massive height and “Citi” logo, which is visible from Manhattan along the East River.

Read more: Amazon is headed to New York City – here are the neighbourhoods that could start swelling with HQ2 workers

Starting next year, Citigroup will begin moving 1,100 employees out of the office tower, freeing up one million square feet of real estate for Amazon. The displaced employees will move to alternate locations in Long Island City or transfer to Citigroup’s global headquarters in Tribeca. Amazon will introduce 700 employees in the next year, followed by 2,200 employees in 2020.

According to Constantine Valhouli, the head of research for NeighborhoodX, the building is a “natural choice” for Amazon, given its dominance and height. Amazon’s move, he said, could symbolise the growing takeover of West Coast technology companies in New York City, where major office towers have long been occupied by financial firms.

Amazon hq2 lic queens arlington virginia locations graphicSamantha Lee/Business Insider

But the move is only temporary. Over the next ten years, Amazon will build a 4 million-square-foot headquarters to house its 25,000 new employees. From there, the company will expand the project to around 8 million square feet, accommodating an additional 15,000 workers.

The entire development is set to be complete in 15 years, at which point Amazon will have spent $US3.7 billion on the project.

That’s a hefty price tag, given that the company’s parallel development in Arlington. Construction on the 4 million-square-foot headquarters, known as National Landing, is set to begin in 2019.

PlaxallPlaxallPlaxall’s plan for a waterfront site in Long Island City.

Though Amazon hasn’t revealed too many details about its Long Island City headquarters, the company plans to occupy the space along the Anable Basin, an artificial inlet separating Queens from Brooklyn.

In a memorandum of understanding, New York’s Empire State Development said the new site would include open public space, community facilities, artist workspaces, technology accelerator space, and room for a public school.

To carry out this vision, Amazon will have to work with the owner of the land, Plaxall, which recently proposed its own ideas for a mixed-used district along the waterfront. Its 2017 proposal included flood resiliency measures and plans to preserve the neighbourhood’s industrial character.

Though Plaxall and Amazon could share a similar wish-list, there’s plenty left to determine, including the project timeline, fate of existing businesses, and location of Jeff Bezos’s controversial helipad.

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