AP Photo/Elaine Thompson Construction cranes near Amazon's headquarters in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood T rying to figure out where Amazon will set down roots or, depending on your perspective, spread its tentacles, is the newest capitalistic cage match. Nineteen American cities and one Canadian metro area, down from the original 238, now go into overdrive to secure what promises to one of the most transformative economic decisions in the world: a single $5 billion investment in a second headquarters that brings 50,000 high-tech workers and their families, plus thousands more jobs in associated sectors. This competition spurred the type of collaboration between private sector and political leaders that only develops when a trophy like an Amazon comes into view, according to Susan Wachter, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor of real estate and finance and co-director of Penn Institute for Urban Research, which assembled a group of urban experts to weigh in...
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip) A Metro train runs along Main Street in downtown Houston on September 5, 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png I n early December, two groups of researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the World Weather Attribution, a global network of scientists, independently concluded that climate change made Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting torrents far more damaging. Hurricanes usually weaken and sputter out after making landfall, but Harvey sat and spun, drenching the metro region with nearly 50 inches of rain over five days . The storm surge that pushed against the coastline slowed the outflows from rivers already swollen by rainfall farther inland, contributing to major flooding. Climate change finds public transit agencies hard-pressed to confront and adapt to extreme meteorological events. Most transit systems have long-established emergency procedures to handle hazards like hurricanes,...
Who needs one million square feet of office space in Boston’s Seaport District? Amazon might. The Boston Globereported Thursday that real-estate industry executives “with knowledge of the talks” dished that Amazon is in the market for one, maybe two office buildings in the bustling and picturesque waterfront neighborhood. (The Boston Business Journalfirst reported the story Tuesday.)
This latest revelation has set tongues wagging that “the Hub” (a Boston nickname, short for “Hub of the Universe”—yes, seriously) had moved to the front of the pack of more than 200 U.S. cities looking to land “HQ2,” Amazon’s much-discussed second headquarters—even though Amazon had already been in the hunt for more office space (the company has about 1,000 employees in metro Boston) long before company officials announced the new headquarters search.
Predictably, Amazon had nothing to say to the Globe. The company plans to make a decision on an additional Boston site at about the same time that it announces its short list of finalists for its new headquarters. The much-vaunted new HQ would employ about 50,000 people.
Massachusetts officials are salivating over the possibility of adding Amazon to its roster of corporate catches. General Electric has already decided to move its headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut, to Boston.
City officials have also proposed another location, a former race track in an eastern section of the city. The race track would be better able to provde the 8 million square feet that the company says it needs for a new campus. But emails obtained by the Associated Press indicate that state officials are trying to “pitch the whole state” as a potential site.
A whole-state strategy might be a more attractive option. Massachusetts prides itself on its highly educated workforce and its standing as home to dozens of other technology innovators.
That pitch has the virtue of glossing over some Boston negatives. The Seaport flooded in jaw-dropping fashion during a recent nor’easter. (Also known locally as the “Innovation District,” some locals refer to the area as the “Inundation District.”) Area residents fear that an HQ2 victory would drive up the metro region’s already astronomical housing prices and saddle new workers with a notoriously poor transportation system:
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) A Boston firefighter wades through flood waters from Boston Harbor on January 4, 2018. W hen Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last August, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh expressed his fear that his own city would have been “wiped out” by a comparable deluge. Scores of people would be rendered homeless, waterfront areas would be ravaged, the damage would run into the multi-billions. Several years earlier, the city dodged a bullet during Hurricane Sandy: Boston was spared the flooding that paralyzed Manhattan only because the storm hit Boston hours after high tide. If Bostonians were apprehensive after Harvey, they are even more nervous after the first blizzard of 2018. Residents were jolted out of complacency as climate change–fueled sea-level rise, cyclonic winds, and high tides produced a storm surge that sent the Atlantic Ocean flowing into Boston’s coastal neighborhoods. Look at this video outside our window of flooding in #Boston historic #FortPoint #Seaport...