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New Jersey Officially Backs Newark As The State's Amazon HQ2 Bid

Rendering of Edison Properties' Ironside Newark

With an impressive list of advantages, Newark may be a dark horse candidate to land Amazon HQ2, and now it has the weight of the state government behind it.

Gov. Chris Christie, Mayor Ras J. Baraka and former mayor and current Sen. Cory Booker announced that Newark is New Jersey's official bid to Amazon at an event hosted by the downtown Newark building that houses both Rutgers University's business school and Audible's headquarters, the New York Times reports.

Audible, owned by Amazon, already has 1,000 employees in the city and subsidized 20 of them to live in apartments in the former Hahne's department store, redeveloped by L+M Development Partners. The apartments sit above a Whole Foods, also owned by Amazon.

Other points the leadership team listed in Newark's favor include its 18-minute train commute to New York, while office rents are a third of the cost across the river. Market-rate apartments in Newark are comparable with subsidized housing in New York, and the New Jersey city sits on top of the Eastern Seaboard's fiber optic network, giving it some of the fastest broadband internet in the country.

But no factor may be more important than the $7B in tax incentives Christie has promised Amazon in exchange for choosing Newark — $2B more than the investment the e-commerce giant promised in its request for proposals, and too much, according to some policy critics.

“They’re talking about doubling already generous corporate tax breaks,” New Jersey Policy Perspective Vice President Jon Whiten told the Times. “They’re not saying, we’ll invest billions in New Jersey Transit so workers can get to work on time, or in affordable housing so workers can have a decent place to live.”

As for where Amazon will set up shop, the Newark proposal group suggested available office space downtown at 33 Washington St. and the Gateway Center near Newark Penn Station for HQ2's first phase. In-development projects such as Edison PropertiesIronside Newark industrial conversion or undeveloped lots are candidates for further phases.