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Bay Area Cities Go All In For Amazon HQ2

The San Francisco Bay Area is officially in the race for Amazon HQ2. Its bid, a regional partnership among five cities, submitted ideas for over a dozen sites in the region. 

San Francisco skyline
credit: Tony Webster
San Francisco skyline

Concord, Fremont, Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond have a pipeline that could accommodate up to 60M SF of office/R&D space and 45,000 new homes at full build-out. Union City and Pittsburg also are being proposed as secondary sites. The Bay Area’s biggest asset is its tech talent, which has grown 104.7% in the last 10 years. Amazon already employs 30,000 in the Bay Area

The cities also are close to several large universities, offer current or proposed high-speed internet options, developments with strict sustainability standards and sites close to highways, airports and public transit.

The three biggest Bay Area projects under development — the Concord Naval Weapons Station, The San Francisco Shipyard and Candlestick Point — would result in 10.4M SF of commercial and 24,400 housing units. The Shipyard and Candlestick Point will create community benefits of $1.5B and the Concord Phase 1 will create $166M of community benefits. About 3,000 below-market-rate housing units are planned for FivePoint’s Shipyard and Candlestick Point, while 25% of the 4,400 units proposed for Concord Phase 1 will be for affordable housing.

California also offers various tax credits, including the California Competes Tax Credit, which could provide up to $40M in tax credits annually for five years. Workforce development and training programs also would be made available to Amazon, including the Employment Training Panel, which can offer up to $10M in funding for Amazon HQ2 annually for 10 years to offset costs for job skills training.

The state also plans to streamline the environmental review process and fund up to $37M annually for workforce housing to support low- and moderate-income households. The state plans to work with Amazon and local governments to meet the workforce housing needs around the Amazon HQ2.

Check out the sites proposed across five Bay Area cities below:

Concord

Bay Area Cities Go All In For Amazon HQ2
Concord Naval Weapons Station

Concord’s 3.5M SF Class-A office, 5.8M SF industrial/flex space and 690K SF of research and development space caters to entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies and life science firms. Several BART stations run through Concord, and the city has easy access to Interstate 680, Highway 24 and Highway 4. It also has a municipal airport, which the bid also said could provide space for Amazon HQ2’s needs.

Concord’s biggest project, the Concord Reuse Project at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station, can accommodate up to 6M SF of commercial development and 12,300 housing units. The full build-out would span 2,300 acres and take about 30 years to complete. The project, to be developed by FivePoint, also will consider several smart city initiatives, such as parking solutions, air quality management, DC microgrid and connected buildings.

The city also proposed sites in its Downtown corridor, which includes a site near the Downtown Concord BART Station. The area has about 250K SF of available Class-A office space next to BART. Buchanan Field Airport would provide another large-scale site for Amazon HQ2. The 495-acre airport immediately west of Concord serves 39 businesses, and has over 52 acres for aviation/non-aviation development that is immediately available and another eight acres planned by 2020.

San Francisco

Bay Area Cities Go All In For Amazon HQ2
Rendering of San Francisco Shipyard

San Francisco’s waterfront presents some of the biggest opportunities for Amazon’s HQ2. Sites that could be considered include FivePoint’s San Francisco Shipyard and Candlestick Point, which will create 4.3M SF of office/R&D, 12,100 homes, 400 hotel rooms, 1M SF of retail and 350 acres of parks and open space across 780 acres. The Shipyard also is implementing strict sustainability standards, offers fiber connectivity for WiFi and may consider smart city innovations as the project progresses.

FivePoint also may develop up to 890K SF with research, development, office, incubator and educational space on 11 acres currently owned by the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. The San Francisco Shipyard Innovation District is expected to deliver by 2020. The Southern Bayfront from Mission Creek to Candlestick Point will add 3M SF of office and R&D space across Pier 70, Mission Rock and the Potrero Power Station development.

Central SoMa, which is undergoing an overhaul to allow for higher buildings and denser development, is part of the city’s plan to create a sustainable neighborhood by 2040. The city plans to adopt the Central SoMa plan by spring of 2018 and anticipates about 6M SF of office under the new plan. The biggest project in the pipeline is Kilroy Realty’s Flower Market, which would create over 2M SF of office and renovate the existing Flower Market.

While much of the Transbay District is being built up and occupied, Park Tower, a partnership between MetLife, The John Buck Co. and Golub and Co., could accommodate Amazon’s initial office needs. It will deliver 744K SF of office by the third quarter of 2018. It is close to several BART stations and will be within walking distance of the soon-to-open Transbay Terminal. Other sites under consideration are Forest City’s 5M and Oceanwide Center.

Oakland

Oakland Coliseum
Oakland Coliseum

Oakland has proposed an Amazon HQ2 in Downtown Oakland, which would be able to accommodate Amazon’s 500K SF of office by 2019 requirement. Sites under entitlement could add at least another 5M SF through 2027.

Buildings that will provide the most space by 2019 include 601 City Center with 400K SF, Uptown Station, which Uber recently said it would sell, with 370K SF, 2150 Webster with 230K SF, Center 21 with 300K SF and 1901 Harrison with 100K SF. Additional office will be available after 2019 with 1.1M SF at 2 Kaiser Plaza, 700K SF at 2201 Valley St., 153K SF at The Key at Broadway and 2.7M SF at Eastline.

The 120-acre Oakland Coliseum area also is available for redevelopment, especially with the current sports teams planning to move into new homes within the next few years. The Coliseum has its own BART station and could be redeveloped to accommodate most of Amazon’s 8M SF requirement by replacing the sports facilities. The current plan for the area is to create a mixed-use urban district with jobs for residents. Oakland City Council also certified the environmental impact report that will allow for a streamlined review of future developments.

Richmond

Bay Area Cities Go All In For Amazon HQ2
Partial rendering of the Richmond Campus Bay project, which is part of the Richmond Southern Shoreline

Richmond has two large areas that could accommodate Amazon’s needs. The Richmond Southern Shoreline includes the UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station, which could be developed with 5.4M SF of R&D facilities, and Campus Bay, an 89-acre property with 65 acres planned for development. The current Campus Bay plan can accommodate up to 2.1M SF of commercial, 1,590 residential units and 320K SF of retail. These sites also have streamlined processes due to a previously approved EIR. The city also has fiber optic connectivity and offers 6,500 acres of parks and open space.

The Hilltop Area of Richmond also provides significant opportunities for an Amazon HQ2. The Hilltop Mall, which recently changed ownership, spans 77 acres and was recently rezoned to accommodate 16.7M SF of retail, office, hotel and residential uses. The area could accommodate 9,670 residential units.

Fremont

Bay Area Cities Go All In For Amazon HQ2
Rendering of Lennar's Warm Springs project in Fremont

The Bay Area’s fourth-largest city’s biggest opportunity is in the Warm Springs Innovation District, which has 11 projects planned or under construction. The biggest is Lennar’s 110-acre mixed-use development under construction that would create 720K SF of office and 2,214 residential units. All told, the 11 projects would result in over 6M SF of commercial development.

The neighborhood is next to BART’s newest Warm Springs Station and will create one of the largest continuous transit-oriented developments full of jobs. The 850-site is anchored by Tesla’s manufacturing facilities. The city also has several other large employers, including Seagate, Western Digital and Synnex.