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As Amazon rethinks New York for HQ2, Chicago officials hope for a second chance

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The tech company is “exploring alternatives” after facing intense opposition in the Empire State

Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

Chicago may get another crack at Amazon HQ2 following a report that the tech giant was reconsidering plans to put half of its campus in New York’s Long Island City. As a result, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel both reached out to Amazon to throw Chicago’s hat back in the ring, according to Crain’s.

Since declaring Long Island City and Arlington, Virginia as HQ2’s co-winners back in November, Amazon faced mounting criticism from some New York residents and politicians. Issues included questionable economic incentives and the company’s stance on unions.

Leaders in Chicago and Springfield, however, appear willing to overlook such concerns and once again court Amazon and its promise of 25,000 jobs. Chicago’s prior bid pledged at least $2.253 billion in tax breaks and other financial incentives to the Seattle-based company, according to documents revealed late last year.

Amazon’s reportedly favorite Chicago site—a 62-acre riverfront parcel known as “The 78”—has steadily forged ahead, clearing several key hurdles since the company’s decision to go elsewhere. The $7 billion megaproject from Related Midwest earned zoning entitlements, unveiled plans for a new $300 million CTA station, and received preliminary approval for a tax-increment financing (TIF) district worth more than $550 million.

Amazon’s interest in “exploring alternatives” to the contentious New York deal, however, may turn out the be little more than a hardball negotiation tactic. The story first appeared in the Washington Post, a publication owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Of the ten sites comprising Chicago’s official HQ2 bid, the Amazon was most interested in “The 78,” according to city officials and developer Related Midwest.
Related Midwest