Party goers enjoy the Renuion lawn at a recent event. Hunt Reality, which owns the site, would love to see an Amazon headquarters fill it up.

Urban Design

And Another Area of Town Throws Its Hat in the Amazon Bullring

Should the fact that Dallas has so many locations that can fit a corporation as large as Amazon be worrisome?

Here’s one takeaway from this whole Amazon HQ2 deal: in a sprawling, inconsistently developed region like Dallas, when a massive corporation announces it needs a place to set up shop, Dallas-Fort Worth offers plenty of options and space.

After the neighborhood wooing had already reached the level of parody, yet another part of town has a proposed new home for the Seattle company: the former site of Reunion Area, which has sat vacant for 8 years as Hunt Realty Investments figures out a future use. Reunion’s Amazon proposal, which the DMN reports on today, includes the soon-to-be vacated Dallas Morning News property, city owned parking lots behind the News, and Union Station, which Hunt current leases from the city. The bid, its drafters say, fits many of the sought-after criteria, including access to public transit (though, thankfully, not access to the recently killed Trinity Toll Road).

To which I say, sure, fine, whatever. I mean, there are tons of places where we could imagine plopping a huge corporate relocation in Dallas. How about near-east Dallas long Main St. and Columbia? Or what about long the Trinity River north of the Design District off Irving Blvd.? Or maybe the industrial district south of Cedars near Lamar Blvd.? Or remember that design competition a few years ago that re-imagined the parking lots behind city hall? Throw it there. Or what about working Amazon into a reconfiguration of the streets connecting downtown and Deep Ellum after 345 is torn down? Or what about that land Wal-Mart is sitting on now that the Uptown Wal-Mart was defeated? How about there?

The point is, perhaps what matters most in this process is not that Dallas dreams up the perfect location for a big new corporation, but rather that Dallas’ wraps its arms around just what it is looking for in wooing Amazon. On the one hand, there is the potential of a massive corporate relocation that could help drive the future sustainable growth of the city and which could have residual economic impact on Dallas, particularly its undeserved communities. On the other hand, there is a risk, as Jim Schutze points out today, of getting so caught up in the chase for the corporate white whale that we start believing Dallas’ urban redevelopment problems and sustainability issues are fixable with a big silver bullet relocation. After all, the flip side of the quick availability of so many prime spots for Amazon is that fact that the mere existence of so many prime spots for urban re-imagining shows that Dallas is having difficulty realizing the full-potential of its urban setting on its own.

Not that the Amazon HQ2 conversation isn’t productive. It is a way to highlight particular areas of the city ripe for revitalization. It is also a way to revisit issues like public transit and mobility, and realize that, through outside eyes, the inertia of the status quo attitude towards development in North Texas may not be what the country’s leading corporations view as either attractive or sustainable.

The bid is also useful as a way to take stock of how the business  community understands its own value, and gain perspective of what “regionalism” really means and how it impacts North Texas growth. I spoke with Darren Grubb at the Dallas Regional Chamber, which is the body tasked with taking all these individual bids that have surfaced — as well as the individual city and chamber proposals, needs, and desires — and packaging them into a singular regional response to the Amazon RFP.

It’s a daunting task. Grubb said the chamber is working with what sounds like just about every city and civic body south of Oklahoma and east of the Brazos, including the Fort Worth Chamber, and cities and counties throughout the region. As for what sites may be specifically proposed to the corporation, we may never know. The chamber will not release the bid or the potential locations it pitches to Amazon before or after it is submitted.

Why not release the proposal? Grubb says it is just the way these things are done. But then, this Amazon deal is also a very complicated political hot potato. It mirrors how decision making is done at DART, at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, or that body’s Regional Transportation Council, or any of the other regionally minded bodies that make important decisions about steering the direction of North Texas’ growth. As the multiplicity of homegrown Amazon bid proposals attests, everyone wants a piece of the Amazon pie. One presumes that, according to the implicit logic of regional compromise that has shaped the policy direction of these other bodies, perhaps the only way to please everyone in this scenario is to spread out the love — make sure a bid tries to offer a little bit of benefit to as many people as possible.

An Amazon headquaters in Fort Worth, Alliance, southern Dallas, Frisco, or at the former site of Reunion Arena would mean vastly different things for the future of the region. Which one would be the best? Which one is best suited to win the bid? Would any of these options be a disaster? Perhaps it doesn’t matter as along as everyone feels they have a shot. It’s how things are typically done in North Texas: spread out the love. It’s the perfect way to design a city that boasts so many under-realized, underdeveloped, under-served urban areas ripe for the imagined windfall that might come some day by reeling in a corporate behemoth.

Comments

  • dallasmay

    [… perhaps the only way to please everyone in this scenario is to spread out the love — make sure a bid tries to offer a little bit of benefit to as many people as possible.]

    Perhaps that’s the perfect reason for NOT releasing the bid. Maybe the chamber isn’t planning to spread the love and is instead going to focus on just a few locations and doesn’t want to upset the people who are going to be cut out.

  • JamieT

    Do you suppose Dallas could just offer annual human sacrifices to Jeff Bezos or even tributes from each neighborhood in the manner of The Hunger Games in lieu of the massive tax kickbacks the rest of us will have to fund through increases in our personal taxes? If so, I’ve got a little list.

  • MattL1

    For all the progress Dallas has made in its urban core over the past decade or so, the fact that there are so many neighborhoods in that immediate area which can easily accommodate a headquarters (sort of) of one of the world’s largest companies speaks volumes about how much work we still have to do.

    I do wish Amazon would make moving to Dallas contingent on knocking down 345. That sucker would be gone by New Years.

  • George Shawnessey

    It’s a foregone conclusion that Amazon will pick a city in Texas. First of all, they want to locate in a state where the governor’s main issue for the last two years has been to regulate bathrooms. Secondly, they want to live in a state where Republican legislators override local ordinances to allow Frackers to spew their poisons within 200 feet of homes, schools, and hospitals. Thirdly, they will be convinced when the Texas Railroad Commissioners, who “regulate” the oil and gas industry explain how they “protected” the people in Chasewood TX where forty people died from cancer after their well water was contaminated. Watch the video where citizens tell the Railroad Commission Sunset Review Committee that oil and gas contaminated their groundwater, but Commissioners Sitton and Craddick claimed there’s never been a case of water contamination related to fracking.

    https://www.facebook.com/LiveableArlington/videos/1846013632347019/

    • George Shawnessey

      Amazon will really enjoy being in Texas where the Frack Quakes are caused by natural phenomena and where climate change is God’s will. Amazon believes in “Sound Science.” They don’t want to be associated with self avowed, liberal, environmental terrorists with agendas who claim that global warming is not a HOAX.

  • Snapper Snatch

    I could give u 12 good reasons why Amazon will NEVER move their HQ’s here but I will only give u ONE and that is CULTURE PPL–Amazon is a West Coast Liberal Corporation and they WILL NEVER move to a Cracker mentality like Dallas–Count on it—Denver will get the HQ’s in the SE area aka Parker

    • Snapper Snatch

      anyone who thinks Amazon will move here needs their head examined

      • Snapper Snatch

        other good reasons Amazon goes 2 Denver:

        they have the best outdoor rock arena in the US aka Red Rocks and the Broncos who just crapped on the Pokies

        Denver had cleaner air & less trafic and NO TOLLS run by Spanish Companies

        And Denver has liable ppl vs the snot balls of Cracker Dallas

        Also, Denver does NOT have the overpriced food

        And, housing is cheaper in Denver

        enver pays its PPL alot more than the minimum wage and provides Health Insurance to its employees

        and Dallas has the HIGHEST property tax rate per $1,000 in the US-