Jeff Bezos's $23 million mansion is a big reason he may pick Washington, DC, for HQ2

AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikimedia CommonsJeff Bezos’ $US23 million purchase could be the key to finding Amazon HQ2.
  • Amazon announced the 20 finalists for its new $US5 billion headquarters, nicknamed HQ2.
  • Three of the locations are in the Washington, DC, metro Area.
  • There are a lot of reasons CEO Jeff Bezos might want to locate there, but the two biggest might be his new $US23 million DC mansion and The Washington Post, which he owns.

Amazon announced the finalists Thursday for Amazon’s new $US5 billion headquarters – and the 50,000 high-paying jobs that come with it – but one look at the list drops a heavy hint at where the global e-commerce giant will go.

The final list includes 20 major cities, three of which are in the same area: Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, VA, and Montgomery County, MD.

Those three are all within striking distance of Bezos’ biggest recent purchase – a $US23 million 27,000-square-foot mansion in Kalorama, the historic DC neighbourhood home to bigwigs in media, politics, diplomacy, and lobbying.

The mansion, which was once the Textile Museum, is the largest private home in DC and blocks from the homes of Barack and Michelle Obama and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who both moved to the Kalorama neighbourhood earlier this year.

As Business Insider’s Dennis Green wrote, DC offers a lot of advantages for HQ2: robust transportation and education systems, a large educated workforce, and high livability.

But perhaps the biggest indicator is in Kalorama. The proximity to Capitol Hill – as well as the numerous potential government contracts that could result in deeper partnerships with Washington – can’t be ignored.

Bezos handed off running Amazon’s consumer business and cloud computing to two deputies a couple of years ago to allow him to focus on developing The Washington Post. The Amazon CEO now hosts conferences calls with Post leadership twice a month, meets with them in Seattle twice a year, and visits the DC offices 10 times a year, The New York Times reported last week.

And Bezos reportedly plans to host regular “salon-style dinners” at the Kalorama house, according to The Times, to bring together DC’s power elite and make his home a center for the city.

If Bezos intends to focus on developing the Post while raising his profile as one of Washington’s major arbiters of power – all while keeping a close eye on his e-commerce empire – the DC metro area is the only logical option for HQ2.

We took a walk through Bezos’s new neighbourhood on a recent trip to DC to see why the area is such a coveted destination.


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ new DC home is in the Kalorama neighbourhood. At 27,000 square feet, the house is the largest in Washington, and Bezos reportedly paid $US23 million in cash in October 2016.

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: The Washington Post


Kalorama, in northwest DC, just above Dupont Circle, is actually two neighbourhoods: Sheridan-Kalorama (in yellow) and Kalorama Triangle (in purple).

GoogleMaps

The house is made up of two historic mansions that Bezos is converting to a single-family home. A lot of construction was underway the day we walked by. Bezos reportedly wants to make the house a social gathering place for the city’s elite.

Source: New York Times


One of the two buildings housed the Textile Museum until 2013, when it was moved to George Washington University. Both mansions are on the National Register of Historic Places.


Next to Bezos’ new digs are the Woodrow Wilson House, where the 28th president lived after his second term until his death in 1924. It was designated a historic landmark in 1964.


The house across the street from Bezos didn’t look too shabby either. The neighbourhood is known for being very quiet and private. Neighbours mingle in backyards, but rarely on the street.


Kalorama Triangle is pretty residential — it and the adjacent Sheridan-Kalorama are known for their idyllic suburban landscape.

Source: Sheridan-Kalorama


The area borders the west side of the hip and diverse neighbourhood of Adams Morgan, one of the centres of nightlife in DC.


Sheridan-Kalorama, where Bezos lives, is very quiet. The only store we saw was the Open Door Market.


It serves as a wine store, a grocery, a deli, a laundromat, and a dry cleaner.


Nearby, you’ll find the Spanish Steps, a broad concrete staircase built in 1911 as part of the “City Beautiful” movement. Named after Rome’s famous staircase, it is Washington’s only public park that occupies a street.

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

From there, we went to Mitchell Park, a small and quiet park in the neighbourhood. Sheridan-Kalorama is technically outside the original boundaries of DC.


Mitchell Park is a beautiful place to walk your dog or have a picnic. Perhaps residents might find Bezos taking his dog for a midday stroll there.


The park also has a playground, several athletic fields, and a basketball court. Maybe Obama, famously a fan of pickup basketball games, will start playing here.


This is the Irish Embassy. Sheridan-Kalorama is also often known as the Embassy Row neighbourhood because of its more than 70 embassies and diplomatic residences. Most are on nearby Massachusetts Avenue.


Sheridan-Kalorama is full of stately colonial houses with manicured lawns. The neighbourhood is one of the few in DC that is elevated above the city — providing good views.


Most of the houses in the neighbourhood are brick colonial houses. Despite the concentration of politicos in the area, neighbours tend to check their partisanship at the door, Jim Bell, an executive vice president of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty who lives in Kalorama, told The Washington Diplomat.

Source: The Washington Diplomat


This is the residence of the ambassador of Pakistan, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. The Pakistani Embassy is in Cleveland Park, a short drive away.


Next, we headed to 24th Street Northwest, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lives. While the cars in the neighbourhood hadn’t been very impressive, there was a noticeable uptick in quality on Tillerson’s block.


Tillerson bought this townhouse for $US5.6 million in February. The house has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, and two half bathrooms. The previous owner of the house was the AOL executive Richard Hanlon.

Source: Curbed DC


If you want to live next door, this house is for sale for $US4.6 million. And it has seven bedrooms rather than Tillerson’s five … just saying.


This car was across the street from Tillerson’s house. Not sure what its owner “FORGOT” …


It’s unclear who lives here, but this place is a lot of house. About a third of the neighbourhood’s residents are tech-industry or hedge-fund execs.


These historic call boxes, 19th-century public phones that people could use to call the police or fire department, are all over the neighbourhood. Residents have turned them into mini museums commemorating Kalorama history — this one was about the numerous Supreme Court justices who have lived there.


Read more about the call boxes ยป


This call box talked about how five US presidents — Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt — lived in Kalorama between 1916 and 1930.


A lot of houses in the neighbourhood have a palatial European style. The area is known for having the biggest houses in DC. The average home price in Kalorama was about $US3.5 million in April, according to Redfin.

Source: The Washington Diplomat


But that doesn’t mean the leaves are getting cleaned up any faster. Someone needs to step out of their mansion with a leaf blower on this street …


This house on Wyoming Avenue belongs to Juleanna Glover, a public-affairs consultant who has been described by Bloomberg as someone you “need to know” in DC. She often throws parties with lots of important people.

Source: Bloomberg


The neighbourhood is full of beautiful trees and finely manicured lawns. I guess if you’re going to spend a few million dollars on a house, you’re not going to skimp on landscaping.


A short drive from Sheridan-Kalorama is Rock Creek Park, a 2,000-acre urban park. But if you don’t want to leave, some trails extend to the neighbourhood. Rock Creek forms the border of Sheridan-Kalorama.


And here we are at the block of Belmont Road Northwest, where the Obamas live. Of course a police car was blocking anyone from entering or exiting. I headed to the other side of the street to see whether it was blocked there as well …


And it was. When I asked the police officer whether residents were upset about the blockade, he laughed. “They get free security,” he said. “They’re happy.” That makes sense, considering the Obamas’ neighbours are Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith and the lobbyist Tony Podesta, among others.


I headed to Tracy Place to see whether Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s block was blocked off. It wasn’t, but there was metal fencing around their house …


And a security van in front. Security officials approached me to make sure I wasn’t up to anything mischievous. I wasn’t — I promised.


And here’s Trump and Kushner’s 7,000-square-foot house, which they’re renting for $US15,000 a month from the Chilean mining billionaire Andronico Luksic.

Source: Business Insider


One of the diplomatic buildings of the Russian Federation is a block away.

Source: Foreign Policy


This house, next to Kushner and Trump’s was a favourite in the neighbourhood. Look at that ivy.


The residence of the Portuguese ambassador, Domingos Fezas Vital, looks stately. A diplomat named Joel Barlow bought the first house in the neighbourhood and named it Kalorama, Greek for “fine view.”

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