The wait is over for Amazon’s decision on where its second headquarters (HQ2) will be housed: the company has begun finalizing plans to split HQ2 between Crystal City in North Virginia and Long Island City in Queens, New York, according to a report in The New York Times.
The decision was made in an attempt to lessen the burden on a single city’s infrastructure. Amazon will also split the spoils of what would have been the creation of 50,000 new jobs and over $5 billion in investments over 20 years.
Withholding the inherent financial and employment benefits of housing the Amazon headquarters, many fear that the impact of Amazon’s presence will drastically raise the cost of living. Out of the 20 finalist cities, it’s no mystery why the company would choose two with access to the best public transit systems in the country. And given how Amazon quite literally changed the landscape of Seattle, it begs the question: Who will be the beneficiaries of such wealth?
According to Red Fin, a real estate brokerage site, the average sale price for a home in Long Island City is $730,000 and $525,000 in Arlington, the county which houses Crystal City. While housing markets in both areas are down 7% and 7.1% respectively, from what they were last year, Alina Ptaszynski, a representative of Red Fin, told The Sociable that ever since Monday’s report, people have showed renewed interest in buying.
“We had someone’s small condo on the market [in Virginia] for a few months, and today there were seven showings,” Ptaszynski told us. “And we had two tour requests immediately follow the news.”
While it’s too early to call exactly how the housing markets will be affected, ever since the long, short list of finalist cities was released last year, major investors have been scoping out properties to buy and then sell—but to whom?
In contrast to Crystal City, where the average household income is just over $105,000, the majority of Long Island City residents currently make $30,000 less than what Amazon promises for its potential 25,000 employees. In the HQ2 proposal request form, the jobs that the new headquarters will create are likely to be broken down into the following categories: executive/management, engineering with a preference for software development engineers, legal, accounting, and administrative.
That’s not to say that the new Amazon campus won’t draw from the current workforce, but according to a demographic survey conducted by Point2Homes, only 27% of the population has either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. In Crystal City, the education rate is much higher, 64.5% percent of residents have either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.
From the onset of the HQ2 announcement, the company touted the $38 billion worth of additional investments that were made over six years in the city of Seattle. The unemployment rate lowered and public transit improved. Farmers markets sprouted up and so did free concert series. Home values raised to 88% and the cost of living shot up by 36%. Put simply, the quality of life in Seattle improved drastically when Amazon arrived, if you could afford it.
Which brings us back to the host cities of “HQ2.1” and “HQ2.2.” So far, the announcement is still under wraps, despite the corroboration of several reliable sources, but both cities have lots to gain at the sheer publicity of the thing. Besides the initial jolt, time will only tell what gains or obstacles the headquarters will bring for the current residents of each fated city. It’s definitely time to start packing but to where is still unclear.
This article was originally published on The Sociable, a sister publication of Tech in DC.