If Amazon is splitting its HQ2 pie, can NJ get a slice? Newark makes last-ditch plea.
Newark isn’t throwing in the towel, yet. As new reports rule out New Jersey’s largest city as one of two locations for Amazon’s second headquarters, state and local officials are going for a Hail Mary.
Reacting to national reports saying Amazon will split its HQ2 between Long Island City in New York and Crystal City in Virginia, Newark is buckling down on its pitch to convince the online commerce behemoth to give Newark a piece of the pie, two sources involved in the negotiations confirmed to NJ Advance Media.
The individuals did not want to be named to not jeopardize their relationships with Amazon.
RIO-NJ was the first to report that officials were angling for a partnership with New York City.
“Newark could be an ace up New York’s sleeve,” one source told NJ Advance Media. “The idea that the horse has left the barn and both of these two cities got it and started running away with it,” isn’t definitive, the person added.
Though both Virginia and New York are in “advance talks” with Amazon, the company has not informed finalist cities of its decision, the sources said.
“This is all speculation, there’s been no official communication,” one source said.
Even before news broke that Amazon was leaning toward Virginia and New York, state and local officials in New Jersey began offering the possibility of partnering with their neighbor 11 miles across the Hudson River, both sources said.
They said though they still believed Newark a strong contender on its own, the stakes were too high to miss out on the opportunity.
“No other city on the list can be transformed like the city of Newark can,” one source said. “Strategically, it makes sense for the region to come together so no city is taking the brunt of the development but Amazon gets the bests of both worlds.”
Recent reports of Amazon narrowing the field to Virginia and New York forced state and local officials to double down on that pitch — and offer Newark as a “release valve” amid rising concerns about whether New York can absorb the developmental impact, they said.
One source said Newark has existing real estate ready for Amazon and is more malleable for any new construction. New Jersey, the person said, can help sweeten the deal for the company with its offer of a $7 billion incentive package, though that will be paired down accordingly.
It’s still not clear how — or if — Amazon will split its HQ2 which officials promised would bring 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment.
Aisha Glover, CEO of the Newark Alliance and the city’s point person for its Amazon bid, said Newark still had the most to gain and stood out for the social impact the company can have in New Jersey’s largest city.
“We still see this as an opportunity, not just tell the equity story but see it play out intentionally. If we have this opportunity, we’re going to leverage it for all its worth,” she said. She declined to speak about any ongoing negotiations but said Amazon had not confirmed any official decisions regarding Newark.
Glover confirmed to NJ Advance Media that Newark received a second visit from Amazon in the late summer but city officials were not involved this time.
Only a handful a cities received second visits, according to media reports.
One source said though they’re hoping they’ll work out an agreement with New York, should Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos say “Newark is my guy, we’re ready for that, too.”
One source said Amazon recently asked officials for the cell phone numbers of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Gov. Phil Murphy, a likely sign that the decision is coming soon.
Amazon has only said they will decide by the end of the year.
Karen Yi may be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook.