There are many reasons why Amazon should open its second headquarters in Newark.
First, accessibility. By air, or highway, a multitude of roads that emanate from the city like strands in a spider web, guaranteeing that Amazon's stuff will get from here to there in short order.
Second, Amazon is already here. It is the parent company of Audible, which sells and produces spoken audio programming and has operated its headquarters in Newark since 2007.
Amazon has seven distribution centers and warehouses along the Turnpike, a newly opened 1-million-square footer in Carteret , and two of equal size planned for Edison and Florence. The company and employees 13,000 people in the state.
Then there are the seven billion other reasons. That's the number of dollars ($ 5 billion) and city ($ 2 billion) are promising Amazon in tax breaks and incentives.
But perhaps Newark's most alluring attribute is an intangible ̵
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Places like New York and Philadelphia can not offer that kind of appeal. They are complete cities. In Newark, Amazon could see itself, like Prudential, as the company that helped formed and forged a new future for a rebounding city.
Newark could be Amazon's company town. In recent weeks, when Bezos surpassed Bill Gates as America's wealthiest man, there were comparisons of each man's philanthropy. Bezos came in a distant second. Not even second. But far below the likes of Mark Zuckerburg and Warren Buffet. Making a huge investment in Newark could take the sting out of that criticism.
On a bus tour of the several potential sites in the downtown Newark area yesterday, Mayor Baraka and two of the city's economic development leaders were armed with lots of facts and figures about what Amazon wants and what the city can provide. 19659002] "We can check all the boxes," said Aisha Glover, president and chief executive officer of the Newark Community Economic Development Corp.
Some are obvious.
Room to expand? Plenty.
Access to a tech-savvy workforce? The New Jersey Institute of Technology is on the doorstep and Stevens Institute is up the road. Not to mention Rutgers.
Properly wired? Newark's fiber optics were built on information carrier hotels 20 years ago and have been improving steadily since. Audible CEO Don Katz lauded Newark's "lightning fast Wi-Fi."
A healthy corporate culture? Prudential, PSE & G, IDT, Panasonic, and they keep coming. Broadridge Financial Solutions arrived in October, and Mars Wrigley Confectionery is coming soon.
There are many more boxes that can be checked.
Culture. The Prudential Center. The New Jersey Performing Art Center.
Downtown life. New residential developments are popping up as fast as new restaurants.
But with all that said, Newark is still very much a work in progress. And the hope is that Bezos will see that his company can be an integral part of that transformation.
"They will have a chance to define the narrative of this city," said Carmelo Garcia, the city's deputy mayor of housing and economic
Amazon is asking for potential host cities to be able to provide 500,000 square feet of office space immediately, with room for as many as an additional 8 million square feet. That's one advantage Newark has over-built cities – that kind of room is available.
At 33 Washington St., the modern building next to the Newark Museum and down the street from Audible, 250,000 square feet are currently under renovation. At 520 Broad Street, another 350,000 square feet are immediately available. The Gateway Center has 655,953 square feet of vacancy.
That's the easy part.
If Amazon comes, it will need real space. Millions of square-feet worth.
On the bus tour yesterday, the officials showed off the 15.5 acres across the street from the Prudential Center and stretching east into the Ironbound. That area, now called Mulberry Commons is where Mars is coming, into a gigantic former rail freight warehouse. The 500,000-square-foot behemoth towers over Route 21 and the tracks into Penn Station.
Another site is the 11.5 acres near Riverfront Stadium, soon to be replaced and replaced with a 2,000-unit residential and commercial space. Then there's a 5.6-acre area next to the FBI building on the waterfront and surrounded by the new glass-and-steel office buildings downtown, off McCarter Highway.
But perhaps most intriguing is the area officials are calling "South of Market . " This is the Halsey Street business area of hair salons and clothing stores, in tired structures from Newark's century-old building boom. In the parking lots are several abandoned garages and warehouses. But across the street is the new Teacher's Village – nationally recognized as a model for urban, business-district residential development for people of moderate incomes.
Baraka pointed out that part of the selling strategy to Amazon is to get them to see that anywhere they build in Newark will be an extension of "great things already happening."
"I grew up in Newark," the mayor said. "I've been hearing about 'The Renaissance' my whole life, It's been the longest Renaissance in history, but I've been hearing about it. said. "We hope that appeals to them … that we can help them and they can help us."
Baraka said the Newark I have envisions – and that is coming to fruition – is a place where there is an equitable affordability in housing. "
" We want to create real neighborhoods in the downtown, "he said." Where there are opportunities to live and go out for all people. That's part of our overall narrative.
"We think that's something they want to be a part of, To make a real difference."
Mark Di Ionno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook.