Neighborhood association submits proposal to bring Amazon HQ2 to the center of Baltimore - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Oct. 20, 2017 11:11 am

Neighborhood association submits proposal to bring Amazon HQ2 to the center of Baltimore

The Old Goucher Community Association wanted to present an option for Amazon to build within existing Baltimore neighborhoods, said Kelly Cross. It's independent from the Port Covington proposal backed by city leaders.

The Old Goucher Community Association's map of Baltimore, with concentric circles.

(Courtesy photo)

City officials sent off their proposal for Amazon HQ2 on Wednesday. But before Thursday’s deadline to answer the ecommerce giant’s call, there was one more bid out of Baltimore.

The Old Goucher Community Association prepared its own response to Amazon’s RFP that focuses on locating the second headquarters in the center of the city.

Association President Kelly Cross said he worked with two others to pull together the bid. They analyzed available property within a 1.5-mile radius of North Ave. and Charles St., and found close to 200 acres of real estate that could be redeveloped. Nearly half is owned by the city or state. Two big sites in the area include State Center, (which has been the subject of a legal battle), and the former site of the Maryland State Penitentiary.

“Center City offers Amazon the most diverse range of building typologies and zoning options, allowing Amazon to build a 21st-century campus within a compact, walkable and beautiful 21st-century urban campus,” the proposal states.

Upon a closer look at the RFP, Cross concluded there would easily be room for the 500,000 sq. ft. of office space that Amazon is requiring right away.

“There’s millions and millions of square feet that they could build over time if that’s what they choose to do,” he said.

Cross also pointed to the area’s proximity to city transit, Penn Station, parks and universities. The area also has a high concentration of creative sector workers, the proposal states.

The Association wanted to offer the proposal as another option for Amazon, along with the bid to locate the headquarters at Port Covington that is being backed by city and state officials. While both would require new development, the Old Goucher proposal would weave the campus into existing neighborhoods rather than being within an entirely new “city within a city.”

Old Goucher can’t offer the tax breaks and economic incentives that the officials packed into their proposals, but saw that other cities were sending in multiple proposals, and wanted to offer another choice for Baltimore. Cross said he didn’t consult directly with the city, but believes leaders would be onboard if they got the call.

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“I have full confidence that if Amazon decides they want to come to Baltimore or come to this particular neighborhood, I seriously doubt that the city is going to tell Amazon no,” he said.

Kelly Cross.

Kelly Cross.

Even if Amazon doesn’t pick Baltimore, Cross said putting the proposal together was a chance to think about the future of the city. (We prompted the tech community to take a similar approach recently.) Taking a closer look at the vacant property that’s available in that central part of the city. The half-mile circle out from North Ave. and Charles St. on the map alone had 13 acres of empty land alone.

Drawing those circles also helped Cross see through dividing lines of neighborhoods that are often drawn in the city.

“When you look at it from that circle perspective, you realize that in a one mile radius from North and Charles has museums, symphony, opera, universities, transit and housing,” he said. They may span different neighborhoods, but they’re not that far away.

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Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Technical.ly Baltimore and Technical.ly DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.

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