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Don't Expect To See Pittsburgh's Amazon Proposal, City Signed Non-Disclosure Agreements

Keith Srakocic
Pittsburgh is one of dozens of cities working to land Amazon's second headquarters. Amazon is promising $5 billion of investment and 50,000 jobs over the next decade and a half. Yet the winning city would have to provide Amazon with generous incentives.

Details of Pittsburgh’s Amazon headquarters proposal won’t be released to the public because the city signed non-disclosure agreements with private developers.

Mayor Bill Peduto is defending the decision, saying the city doesn’t have enough land to meet Amazon’s requirements, so he turned to local corporations, who asked for confidentiality.

“Those private developers and private property owners would never have agreed to make a proposal if it were to be public,” Peduto said.

He added that 75 percent of the 238 cities that sent bids to Amazon signed non-disclosure agreements. The administration has been criticized for not releasing details of their HQ2 submissions, which Peduto said is upsetting.

“For somebody to write a story that makes it seem like Pittsburgh is keeping this secret and we’re the only one, when the vast majority of the proposals are under non-disclosure agreement is disappointing,” he said.

Last week, PublicSource published a story saying that the city and Allegheny County rejected the news organization's requests for copies of the proposal. 

Philadelphia is among the few cities to release details, which Peduto said was because their bid includes city-owned land.

Amazon’s HQ2 request asks for up to 8 million square feet for development and close proximity to mass transit and highway systems. It promises 50,000 new jobs to the region.

As potential sites, Pittsburgh officials have floated the former brownfield, Hazelwood Greens, SCI Pittsburgh on the North Side and land around the former Civic Arena in the Lower Hill District.

Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus, of the South Side, said he agrees with Peduto’s assessment that the details should be kept private.

“There’s those moments in life where the stars align and either you ride it for all it’s worth, or you lose that opportunity,” Kraus said. “That’s where we are right now.”

Peduto said if the city is chosen as a finalist, anything involving public money would have to be approved through city and county councils, the school board and the state legislature.

Proposals were due by Oct. 19 and Amazon expects to choose finalists in 2018.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.