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Amazon passes up LA for second headquarters

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Los Angeles was one of 20 finalists for the huge office complex

Los Angeles skyline
Even without a headquarters, Amazon is expanding its footprint in the LA area.
ESB Professional/Shutterstock

The attempts of Los Angeles elected officials and business leaders to lure Amazon to the city have fallen short.

On Tuesday, the tech giant confirmed reports that it would divide up its planned second headquarters between New York City and Crystal City, Virginia. That means that Los Angeles won't get the 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars of investment the company has promised to bring to the location of its new headquarters.

On the flip side, the city won't be on the hook for the rich subsidies the winning cities will be handing over to the company in coming decades.

When Amazon launched a high-profile search for a second base of operations last year, hundreds of cities submitted bids to woo the company, which now operates out of a massive Seattle campus with more than 8 million square feet of working space.

In January, Amazon narrowed those candidates down to a list of 20 finalist cities, including LA.

In a statement, Bill Allen, CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, which submitted LA's bid, says that in spite of the company's headquarters decision, Amazon's presence will be felt in the region.

“While Amazon has chosen to build its HQ2 elsewhere,” Allen says, “the company is already a huge and very fast growing employer in the LA region and we expect to see that growth continue.”

In 2017, the company announced plans to lease Culver City’s historic Culver Studios campus, where Gone with the Wind and the original King Kong were filmed. Amazon doubled down in March, agreeing to lease much of the Culver Steps development now under construction across the street.

The company also operates multiple distribution centers in the area and paid $1 billion for Santa Monica-based startup Ring earlier this year.

Since Amazon won’t be constructing a massive office complex in Los Angeles, sites proposed for the second headquarters will be available for other projects. The full details of LA’s bid haven’t been revealed to the public, but sites pitched to Amazon include the Pomona Fairplex and the former Rocketdyne plant in Warner Center.

Mall of America owner Triple Five Group is reportedly interested in purchasing and redeveloping the Rocketdyne property. New development is also planned around the county’s fairgrounds.

Fairplex president Miguel Santana tells Curbed that coming up with a plan for Amazon offices at the massive 487-acre site “gave us an opportunity to evaluate our assets.”

Santana says the campus will continue to be used for the fair and other events, but that it’s possible some parts of the site, including surface parking areas, could see new development in coming years.

That includes a mixed use project around a future Gold Line station that the Fairplex organization is recruiting developers to construct. Details of the project have yet to be fleshed out, but it could include retail businesses, housing, and a hotel.

“Amazon created this opportunity for us to think about our community,” says Santana. He says the organization is now committed to building a “campus of the future.”