Sorry, Vallejo, but Los Angeles is the only West Coast city to make Amazon’s list of 20 candidates for its second headquarters, but Solano County’s largest city has had a tandem plan rolling to accommodate other large employers.
Amazon’s short list, released Jan. 18, includes mostly cities toward the East Coast. In the western half of the country are Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and Austin, Texas.
In October, Vallejo had thrown its hat into a ring of 238 contenders nationwide for Amazon’s HQ2 project, which the Seattle-based company estimates will bring up to 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investments over almost two decades to the winner. Key selection criteria the company said it was looking for were a metropolitan area with 1 million people, business-friendliness, tech talent attraction and retention, innovative approach to development, sustainability, high-speed internet, cellphone connectivity and an Amazon-compatible culture.
Vallejo had offered the e-tail giant 157 acres at the north end of Mare Island, a former Navy shipyard converted into a commercial center and housing community. The area has an approved specific plan allowing up to 1.2 million square feet of commercial, office, retail or industrial space to be built there.
"One of the things that was really helpful with the Amazon solicitation was it really gave us a nice blueprint, confirming our business-attraction strategy for well-paying jobs," said Ron Gerber, the city's economic development manager. "It highlights some of the components we have here in Vallejo. When you're looking at diversity, recreation, affordable living and transit, those are all boxes we can check for business attraction and expansion. It helped us with what the 21st century employee and related employers look for."
Mare Island has connections to four highways and direct ferry service to San Francisco.
But Vallejo wasn’t putting all its eggs in Amazon’s shopping cart. In early November as the HQ2 bid was in progress, the city circulated a request for qualifications from commercial developers for the north Mare Island property. The deadline for submissions is March 30.
"Instead of specific site plans, we want to have concepts attached to jobs and experience and attached to capital," Gerber said.
After the shipyard closed in 1996, Lennar homebuilders and the city partnered to develop approximately 600 acres immediately adjacent to the north Mare Island site, bringing in commercial, light industrial, advanced manufacturing, medical and office users, as well as constructing a new residential neighborhood.
20 candidates for Amazon's HQ2
- Austin, Texas
- Columbus, Ohio
- Los Angeles
- Montgomery County, Maryland
- Newark, New Jersey
- New York City
- Northern Virginia
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Washington, D.C.