Amazon Not Coming To Pittsburgh, Peduto Says Officials Will Share City’s Bid

Nov 13, 2018

Amazon will split its second headquarters between Long Island City in New York and Crystal City in northern Virginia.

The online retailer announced the decision Tuesday in a post detailing its plans. Amazon said it also selected Nashville as a "Center of Excellence" for operations, "which is responsible for the company’s customer fulfillment, transportation, supply chain, and other similar activities."  The Nashville center will create 5,000 jobs.

The decision ended an intense competition between North American cities to win Amazon and its promise of 50,000 new jobs. Amazon said it will have 25,000 employees in each city. Some locations tried to stand out with stunts, but Amazon made clear that it really wanted incentives, like tax breaks and grants. The company received 238 proposals before narrowing the list to 20 in January.

City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials have not shared the details of the city's proposal, despite numerous requests from the media and public. The refusal to share the proposal prompted several protests

However, at a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Bill Peduto said the city and county will release its Amazon bid, perhaps as soon as Thursday.

"I have to confirm with the county executive [Rich Fitzgerald] ... but once we get an opportunity to see what New York and D.C. have offered, so we have some kind of comparison, I would think that we could release it as soon as 48 hours," Peduto said. 

Peduto said he has no regrets about keeping the Amazon bid under wraps thus far, saying it's standard practice.

"The only difference  between Amazon and Prantl's bakery is the number of zeros in the deal," he said. 

Peduto said officials will likely release the entire bid, barring any non-disclosure agreements.

"I think so," he said. "I mean there are some parts that we had with private companies that we may have to redact because of NDA agreements that we had with them. But anything that involves the public would be given over to the public."

Long Island City and Crystal City meet Amazon's other requirements: be near a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and have room to expand. Amazon also wants to able to attract top technical talent and be able to expand the headquarters.

Rapidly growing Long Island City, in the borough of Queens, is an old manufacturing area where warehouses are being replaced with apartment-filled glass towers.

And Crystal City, across from the nation's capital, is made up of 1980s-era office towers. The area is trying to revive itself after thousands of federal jobs moved elsewhere.

In setting off the flurry of interest, Amazon said it could spend more than $5 billion to build its second headquarters over the next 17 years.

But splitting the second headquarters between Long Island City and Crystal City begs the question of whether the new locations will be headquarters at all. It's unclear where Amazon's executives — such as CEO and founder Jeff Bezos — will spend much of their time. If each location gets 25,000 jobs, that would make it smaller than Seattle's, which houses more than 40,000 workers.

Nonetheless, the extra space will help the rapidly growing company. Launched in 1995 as an online bookstore, Amazon now produces movies, makes voice-activated Echo devices, runs the Whole Foods grocery chain, offers online services to businesses and designs its own brands of furniture, clothing and diapers.

Amazon's employee total has ballooned to more than 610,000 worldwide, and that's expected to increase as it builds more warehouses across the country to keep up with online orders. The company recently announced that it would pay all its workers at least $15 an hour, but the employees at its second headquarters will be paid a lot more — Amazon says they'll make an average of more than $100,000 a year.

*This post was updated at 2:53 p.m. to include more information. 90.5 WESA's Sarah Kovash, Margaret J. Krauss and Chris Potter contributed to this report.