It’s been a year (and a day) since Amazon announced that its second headquarters is coming to the Northern Virginia area.
When this reporter was hired last August, former Technical.ly Philly lead reporter Roberto Torres told me that I’d be writing the story about Amazon moving into the D.C. area — he was actually very adamant about it — and he was right.
Seems like it was ages ago, and so much has happened overall in this past year since then — from Amazon pulling out of its second HQ location in New York, to the tech giant coining the term “National Landing” to describe its Northern Virginia development, and beyond.
We’ve reported on Amazon’s plans for NoVa extensively, but we wanted to take this anniversary opportunity to highlight some key moves that have been made already.
To do so, we broke it down into a few main themes: real estate, universities and local businesses.
Northern Virginia’s real estate outlook is quickly changing.
With the bid for Amazon’s NoVa HQ, the company promised to bring more than 25,000 full-time jobs, $2.5 billion in Amazon investment and 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space for each location. If Amazon creates the forecasted 25,000 jobs for Arlington, the company will receive performance-based direct incentives of $573 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Amazon didn’t waste any time buying and leasing up a bunch of building space from JBG Smith Properties in the Crystal City area. The tech giant began executing a group of leasing and purchase agreements with the real estate investment firm back in April, the Washington Business Journal (WBJ) reported, but it didn’t stop there. Over time, Amazon will continue to lease and purchase space in the Crystal City area to meet that 4-million-square-foot mark.
But with all of these employees coming into the area over a 12-year period, where will they live?
At the beginning of October, JBG Smith submitted a plan to Arlington County to redevelop a group of buildings in Crystal City. Some of these developments will be used for office space, but WBJ reported that 4.7 million square feet of space will go toward bringing 4,000 to 5,000 housing units to the growing area. This is just one of many real estate firms releasing plans to expand housing options in the Northern Virginia area.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has also committed to investing $195 million in neighborhood infrastructure improvements and to fix up the Crystal City and the Potomac Yards Metro stations and other areas to improve the safety and accessibility experience for pedestrians.
The real estate investment list goes on, from the site near Amazon getting a movie theater, grocery store and a list of retail stores.
Local universities are expanding and scaling their degree programs.
The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus is being built near the site of Amazon’s HQ2. The public research institute first released its game plan for the campus back in June. This deal came as part of Virginia winning the bid for the tech giant’s second HQ. The campus will be located in Alexandria and will be part of a 65-acre, mixed-use district planned and developed by Lionstone and JBG Smith.
The campus will mainly focus on supporting graduate degree programs and research opportunities in computer sciences and software engineering with an emphasis on high-demand areas such as data sciences and technology and policy. Even though the university is still designing the campus, set to be completed by 2024, it started accepting applications for its first degree program at the innovation campus earlier this month.
George Mason University (GMU) is also getting some funding to expand its established Arlington campus and developing new initiatives to meet Amazon’s demand for more local tech employees. The two initiatives are a new School of Computing and an Institute for Digital Innovation. This expansion comes a new building that will include classrooms and computer labs, commercial entities for food and coffee, and short-term housing for visiting faculty, researchers, startups or graduate students.
Amazon Web Services is currently partnering with GMU and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) to create a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) pathway in cloud computing. Admitted students would study for two years at NOVA before continuing their education to earn a bachelor’s degree at GMU.
Back in August, the University of Maryland announced its plans to add a center to the NoVa region in an effort to be closer to Amazon. The 8,000-square-foot space in Crystal City coined The Discovery Center will be used to promote innovation and collaboration among UMD students, faculty, alumni and employees as well as local residents. UMD reported that its computer, math and natural sciences, engineering, information studies and business schools plan to host learning events and lectures out of the Crystal City-based center.
Tech companies are relocating to NoVa and expanding their operations.
Back in January, edtech company Blackboard relocated its global headquarters to NoVa, combining its D.C. and Reston, Virginia, offices to bring its local workforce under one roof. The company is now situated at 11720 Plaza America Drive in Reston with 350 employees housed there.
Amify relocated its Alexandria headquarters to the Arlington to be closer to the new Amazon site. The company provides tech and services designed to help small businesses and brands maximize their selling potential on the Amazon Marketplace. The startup reported that it hopes this relocation will position it to attract and retain more top talent to expand its customer base.
Earlier this week, we also shared insight on how some companies further out in Virginia feel about the tech giant moving in; give it a read if you haven’t already.