CM Charles Allen Sees Little Chance for Amazon HQ on Reservation 13

Councilmember Charles Allen at Tuesday night’s Pennsylvania Avenue Vision Summit in Hill Center

CM Charles Allen Sees Little Chance for for Amazon HQ on Reservation 13

by Larry Janezich

Responding to a question at the end of his Pennsylvania Avenue Summit at Hill Center last night, CM Charles Allen all but said “Don’t bet on Amazon putting its new proposed $5 billion headquarters on Reservation 13”.  That counsel has been reinforced by news media reports which point to obstacles in the way of the proposal.

Allen said that there was no doubt such a massive project would have a substantial impact on the community and that the District is one of “6,000 cities saying ‘Pick us’”.  Allen added, with respect to the city’s bid, “There’s no meat on the bones,” referring to the city declining to disclose what financial incentives it might offer to Amazon somewhere down the line.

Amazon’s need for 8 million square feet of space gave him pause, Allen said, and made him wonder if the need is consistent with what the community feels would work for Hill East.  He noted that some Hill Easters are saying, “Let’s not shut the door…” but in terms of a reality check, estimated that the likelihood of Reservation 13 being chosen is “down in the decimal points”.

On the face of it, the proposal seems preposterous.  The disruption and divisions to the community, the dwarfing of every other economic and local governmental agency, and the demands on infrastructure and services such a development would require should cause residents to question the sanity of city officials who proposed this as well as those who support it.  DC would end up just handing over the keys to the city to Jeff Bezos.

As reported elsewhere, some of the obstacles in the way of Reservation 13 being selected include:

The entire zoning of Reservation 13 would have to be changed – a long contentious process.

Reservation 13 is the site of the DC Homeless Shelter and the DC Jail which would have to be relocated.

The adjacent RFK is on National Park Service land.  Events DC holds a lease which expires in 2033.

There are three other DC sites being offered:  Buzzard’s Point and a parcel on Poplar Point across the Anacostia River, NOMA over the railroad tracks, and a site in Shaw/Howard University.  None appear likely in light of incentive packages being offered by jurisdictions in other locations.

ANC6B Commissioners Danial Ridge and Denise Krepp took to Twitter and the New Hill East Listserv to blast the city’s lack of transparency and betrayal of trust with the Hill East community as represented by ANC6B.

Krepp said, referring to DMPED’s appearance before the ANC’s Hill East Task Force last Wednesday, “I’m appalled and incredibly frustrated that DC agencies lied to neighbors last week.  They had a plan for the property; they just didn’t want to share it with us.”

Ridge said, “I am appalled at this lack of transparency. I am further appalled that DMPED spoke to us about this plan at 9:30 this (Monday) morning and asked us to keep it from you until they released it at 10:00.

Amazon as a firm has a vision of the future at odds with DC’s best future. I think they would do bad things to housing affordability and homelessness. I think we would have difficulty fighting Amazon on taxes or jobs or development in the future if they had such an oversize influence on the city.”

In a letter to the Mayor, Ridge said, “I am always willing to consider proper non-disclosure arrangements but I hope that I will never again be contacted under embargo a half-an-hour before an announcement of such significance. It makes me a party to an opaque system in an unwelcome way.”

Bids for the project are due on October 19.  Amazon will make a decision in early 2018.

On Friday, Council Member Charles Allen holds community office hours from 8:00am until 9:30am, at The Pretzel Bakery in Hill East, at 257 15th Street, SE.


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8 responses to “CM Charles Allen Sees Little Chance for Amazon HQ on Reservation 13

  1. wardsix

    “would require should cause residents to question the sanity of city officials who proposed this as well as those who support it”

    Are you kidding me? This whole article seems prematurely alarmist.

  2. dlg

    The real question is – why wouldn’t residents want HQ2 on R13? Do you want a homeless shelter, jail, and methadone clinic forever of R13? Because that is exactly what is going to happen unless HQ2 or some other grand scheme is implemented.

    • anon

      IDK … terrible labor record … totally incompatible with Res 13 master plan. Those are the 1st two that come to mind

    • anon

      DC is already building shelters in all 8 Wards to replace DC General, including elsewhere in Ward 6. As for methadone clinic — needs to go somewhere and better than jail for people on maintenance trying to stay straight and contribute productively to society. Speaking of jail, it also needs to go somewhere and there are already RFPs for its replacement, whether on Res 13 or elsewhere.

      Amazon HQ2 would just push these services elsewhere and ruin decades of planning for Res 13.

  3. RDO

    Amazon HQ2 in Hill East? Good, they can take lead on Anacostia River cleanup too, get it done. Much potential with proposal. Negotiate if they are interested. Glad DC Gov put Res 13 in the offering.

  4. Ellen

    I am not going to waste my time thinking of the benefits/costs because I think they already know where they are going and I doubt it is DC.
    Even if they haven’t, I don’t think they would bring it to DC if for no other reason that the cost to put it here in time and money are a lot higher than it would go in many other places – particularly places that aren’t heavily developed already.

  5. Chris

    To me reservation 13 looked like the most viable of the proposed sites in DC, which isn’t saying much. Unlike the other proposals, Amazon would end up with a contiguous site close to metro – and the entire proposed area falls within the reservation so NPS would not be involved.
    I don’t think it’s necessarily the best thing for the neighborhood but for 50k high-paying jobs, the District would be remiss if they did not at least throw their hat in the ring…

  6. muskellunge

    Getting the HQ2, is swinging for a grand slam — really unlikely, but if it happened it would be a complete game changer.

    But what reservation 13 need is a few base hits — smaller, more likely successes.