Downtown Cary

How Cary Negotiates for Amazon HQ2

Editor’s Note: An earlier draft of this article mistakenly listed locations in Cary that could potentially fit the HQ2 requirements as locations offered in a submission to Amazon. Cary has not submitted any locations or sites to Amazon.

Cary, NC – 2018 started with news that the Triangle area, including Cary, made the final cut for Amazon’s second headquarters. As part of those negotiations, Cary has tried to put its best foot forward, both in what the town has to offer and what incentives it can bring.

Amazon HQ2

Options on the Table

While Amazon’s original announcement said the Raleigh metropolitan area made the final 20 of possible cities for its new headquarters (HQ2), it has since clarified that the entire Research Triangle is eligible, including not just Raleigh and RTP but also Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary.

Some of the finalist cities have revealed how much money in tax incentives they are willing to give, with Durham County offering at least $50 million. Cary Assistant Town Manager and Chief Innovation Officer Dan Ault said any similar offers are not necessarily binding but constitute a “big bag of options” between a municipality and Amazon.

“The key is to submit a proposal to attract attention. As it goes down that path, discussions continue and they can include ideas not in the original proposal,” Ault said. “The key is remaining flexible but leaving no stone unturned to finish the deal.”

Financial incentives would be a regional effort, with the state and county governments putting money in as well. But Ault said Cary’s proposal was largely about what the region has to offer with infrastructure and a skilled work force.

“Amazon has also made access to mass transit a requirement and the fact that there are now transit efforts here helps,” Ault said.

What Cary Can Offer

The building requirements in Amazon’s Request for Proposal (RTP) show the first phase of construction taking up at least 500,000 square feet, which would start in 2019. The total square foot requirements are “up to” 8 million, which would take place “beyond 2027.” In addition to land requirements, the RTP also asks submitting municipalities to demonstrate the fiber connectivity at proposed sites, as well as cell phone coverage.

Ault said when a location is finally selected, a site for construction would be part of the package, either for no cost or with incentives to offset the purchase of the site.

Also, the town can offer site improvements to little or no cost. Ault said also said any potential site would most likely have one land owner as opposed to several pieced together.

Regardless of whether or not Cary is selected as the HQ2 location, if it is the Triangle at all, Ault said the town would likely be involved in some shape or form because of the amount of water and sewer that Cary serves to the surrounding areas.

“If they pick Cary, it would impact us differently than Raleigh but we would still be involved,” he said.

In just Phase I of Amazon’s construction, their RFP estimates between $300 to $600 million spent in local capital investment.

Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Hal Goodtree and Amazon. Business content sponsored in part by Great Harvest Bread in Cary.

5 replies
  1. Michael DeHaan
    Michael DeHaan says:

    I would imagine there are lots of people that realize this massive growth would be disasterous for Cary traffic and open space. Amazon is a great service but has a reputstion of being a harsh employer in tech circles. I wish Cary would not assume we all want to grow for growth’s sake.

  2. pauld315
    pauld315 says:

    Where in downtown would there even be a chunk of land owned by one owner for a campus this size ? Not feasible.

  3. Jacob
    Jacob says:

    Fenton “area”, especially if talking about area #2 of Eastern Gateway (envisioned/reserved to receive 20+ story office towers -per Imagine Cary plan) = Yes, makes total sense for Triangle area. Convenient central high profile location with great access (roads, rail, air). There is a reason the mega Fenton Development, Ikea, and Wegmans want to be there.

    Downtown Cary = No, horrible idea. I can’t even figure how it would be possible (too many land owners/pieces). Access would be a nightmare too. Even if so, why… and destroy downtown and all the effort and resources gone into it recently to revitalize it (coming along nicely). Just a terrible idea. Kind of disappointed it was even offered up as a site.

    • Joy
      Joy says:

      Agree totally with Jacob. Fenton yes, why would downtown even be offered. From reading the “vision plan” that kind of huge business development doesn’t even make sense in downtown. If you are going to keep stating that as your play book, follow it.

  4. johnny jones
    johnny jones says:

    Really excited about all the improvements/development in the area but not sure how I’d feel about this in that location. 50,000 people in & out daily…I think the area would be overwhelmed & possibly changed in a negative way?? Not a firm thought, just seems to be too much??

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