Photo by Dave Hensley via Flickr.

Technology

Score One for Downtown Dallas in the Amazon Sweepstakes

If, and it's still a big if, Amazon decides to come to Dallas, it reportedly prefers downtown. This is why that matters.

Following this week’s Dallas Morning News report that Amazon representatives visited Dallas last month as part of the company’s search for a second headquarters, it’s time to again read the tea leaves.

Amazon, which first announced its search with enough fanfare to ensure nearly every city in the country would debase itself for a shot at HQ2, has gone quiet since announcing the 20 finalists. The suits and politicians representing the finalists themselves are also required to keep their mouths shut during this secretive second phase. So the cottage industry of blog posts predicting Amazon’s decision is working in even darker conditions than before. Here’s what we do know.

Along with the Dallas visit, Amazon employees have also at least been to the Washington, D.C. area, Denver, and Toronto. That doesn’t mean much except that reporters in each of those regions are well-sourced enough to know about those visits—it seems possible, if not likely, that the company has already been to all of the other finalists as well.

The Denver Post was given the impression that Amazon doesn’t care too much about what time zone it lands in, which is good news for Dallas. The paper was also given the impression that Amazon places a special premium on legal protections for LGBT+ people, which is bad news for Dallas as long as it’s located in Texas. Others have speculated that Atlanta’s chances may have been dinged by the Georgia legislature’s decision to punish Delta after the airline cancelled a discount program for NRA members. The move by state lawmakers there could be seen as bad for business and for the socially progressive values Amazon head Jeff Bezos has sometimes espoused.

More and more oddsmakers are naming the D.C. area, which has three finalists (in D.C. itself, Montgomery County, Maryland, and northern Virginia), the frontrunner. Bezos already owns the Washington Post, he has a house in town, and as Amazon reaches its tentacles into every industry and facet of American life, the company may want to breathe more directly down the necks of federal regulators.

Still, Dallas is in the running, and there’s one other bit from the Morning News report that’s worth focusing on. Although Dallas has kept details of its bid secret, the Regional Chamber reportedly submitted sites across the region. (It’s unclear to me whether Frisco went rogue.) Amazon was not interested in any of the sites scattered across North Texas’ ample sprawl, however. (Sorry, Valley View). Instead, if Amazon comes to Dallas, it’s probably coming downtown.

Is this another blow against regionalism, as it’s currently conceived and as it’s driven Dallas policy-makers for decades? At the least, it seems to be further evidence that a vibrant downtown and well-connected urban core are good for business.

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Comments

  • downtownworker

    The Victory Park location would be great for them. One of the HQ2 requirements was on-site transit, and what’s better than a DART station taking you from DFW Airport to “Amazon Station” – which no doubt would be its new name? Employees could live all along the Orange and Green lines without needing to drive to work.

    • RompingWillyBilly

      They could also live up and down Central Expressway. The best opportunity for people to live wholly without a vehicle is along Central Expressway between Lemmon Avenue to the south and the burgeoning Walnut Hill area to tge north. I think DART puts too much emphasis on downtown. As Steve Brown once said way back before his newspaper was taken over by communists, if downtown is the central business district of Dallas, Central Expressway is its commercial spine.
      Really complicating matters is the Uptown area in and around The Crescent and Harwood districts rising to become the regions new central business district.

  • Clark Ron

    downtown Dallas? Please! There is not a single supermarket and no place to eat besides 711.

  • RompingWillyBilly

    Inferior rail system? That is like complaining about bones being within a plate of delicious fried chicken! There are six rail lines connecting downtown Dallas with five medical centers! Houston has one connected to the Texas Medical Center while two already connect up with the Southwestern Medical District!! There are three lines connecting downtown with the three major business districts of downtown Fort Worth, Las Colinas, and the Richardson Telecom Corridor! The two major airports of DFW and Love Field are already connected as well!
    Fortunately, light rail lines don’t connect up with the area’s luxury and legacy retail if that is the gripe. That has been proven to be stupid! If the area is already working, leave it be. Remember Prestonwood City? A mass transit bus center killed that mall! And it really did help not opening that long ago planned subway line in Knox-Henderson. If I hear another suggestion that a trolley should be run to Knox Park, I’m going to explode.
    Please be specific in explaining how the rail system in North Texas sucks?
    The transportation system of North Texas wasn’t designed around the horse like New York City, but the automobile. Please be patient. In five years, because of Amazon, all of society should be riding in driverless cars, utterly paperless (finally!), and have robots doing all the work.