Dallas leaders put city’s iconic skyscrapers in the mix for Amazon HQ2

September 29th, 2017 by Jessica MacDonald

Original article by Candace Carlisle, Dallas Business Journal September 28, 2017

The executives at Downtown Dallas Inc. are pulling together potential development sites in the city’s central business district that could appeal to the search underway by Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) for a second North American headquarters.

“We have a lot of options with nearly 6 million square feet of space available for someone to move into today,” said Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., an advocacy group for Dallas’ urban core.

“Amazon said they are looking for 500,000 square feet of space in 2019, and we can easily absorb that in the CBD,” Garrett added. “Within a 2.5-mile radius, we have almost 30 million square feet of real estate; the opportunities are endless.”

Garrett and other North Texas leaders are helping the Dallas Regional Chamberidentify the best sites in the region that could sway the e-commerce giant to bring its proposed $5 billion campus to Dallas-Fort Worth.

The 500,000 square feet could fit easily into a variety of configurations of either one or a few of Dallas’ trophy buildings, she said.

Dallas’ tallest skyscraper, Bank of America Plaza, is one of the building’s being discussed as a potential option for Amazon to consider. Other options include:

  • Tim Headington’s development parcels at Field and Ross streets.
  • Mike Hoque-owned parcels south of Dallas City Hall. Hoque, a Dallas real estate investor, also recently acquired the former Pilgrim’s Pride facility.
  • The Texas Central high-speed rail transit-oriented development by Dallas-based Matthews Southwest.
  • The Spire Realty development tract on the east side of the CBD by Interstate 345, with the help of nearby properties (like the developable land surrounding the historic Dallas High School and Carpenter Park). If selected, this could mean the cry for the teardown of Interstate 345 could be heard by Amazon execs.
  • Exposition Park, which sits east of downtown Dallas near Deep Ellum.

In all, Garrett said Downtown Dallas Inc. plans to help pitch upwards of a dozen different configurations in the city’s central business district.

Michael Ablon on Amazon HQ2:

Longtime Dallas developer and investor Mike Ablon said he wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon already had a notion of which cities they planned to shortlist, with the idea this publicly issued request-for-proposal process would let those cities validate themselves.

“They are very indicative of a new economy,” Ablon, principal at Dallas-based PegasusAblon told the Dallas Business Journal.“They are in a number of verticals and spaces and they have to have at the back of their mind: What’s is the solution that fulfills our goals for the next 25 years.

“It’s a very complicated question to answer from the outside,” he added.

Ablon, who played an important role in the early transformation of the Design District, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon wanted to weave itself into the fabric of a city, whether it be urban or suburban.

This real estate search — regardless of what happens — will be an important one for Dallas, he said, which seems to still be reeling from Boeing selecting Chicago over Dallas because of the Texas city’s lack of culture.

 HQ2 and Dallas

“If they come to Dallas-Fort Worth, we will all benefit,” Ablon said. “If they don’t and they give feedback for the next five to 10 years, we’ll see an action plan to adjust or mitigate that for the future.

“HQ2 is a bit of a watershed moment of the decade,” he added. “This will show how a city will position itself for the future.”

Meanwhile, Garrett said she believes Dallas has gotten over its Boeing past and is ready for the future.

“Dallas has matured as a city and we are miles from where we were in the late 1990s,” she said. “We have affordable housing, great infrastructure and young, educated professionals. We have a great story to tell.”