Montgomery County Won’t Detail Potential Sites in Amazon Bid Before Submission

Other local jurisdictions have announced sites they’re pitching


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Spheres being constructed at Amazon's Seattle headquarters

IMAGE VIA NBBJ WEBSITE

While officials in Washington, D.C, Baltimore and Prince George’s County have detailed the sites they plan to pitch to Amazon for a new headquarters site, Montgomery County is keeping quiet.

Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for County Executive Ike Leggett, said Monday that the county doesn’t plan to release the possible sites it has identified for a new headquarters or other details about its bid to the tech company.

Bids are due Thursday.

When asked if the county would make its pitch public, Lacefield said, “It doesn’t help our bid. Amazon has asked that the proposals be confidential.”

He said “there’s no question” releasing the sites could hurt the bid and the “smart thing to do” is to keep it confidential.

In its request, Amazon asks jurisdictions to send hard copies marked “confidential” to the company. It does not specifically ask jurisdictions not to share information about the bid with the public.

The Seattle-based company did not immediately respond Monday to an email sent to its press relations office asking if the company has requested jurisdictions keep its bids confidential.

Other area jurisdictions have been revealing the sites they’ll be pitching. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday revealed that the city is lobbying for sites near Nationals Park, parcels behind Union Station, land in NoMa and the area around Union Market for its bid.

In Northern Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is reportedly backing a bid at the Center for Innovative Technology campus next to Dulles International Airport, although he has refused to discuss it on the record, according to The Washington Post.

Baltimore is focusing its proposal on the Port Covington area, where Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has been working on a massive mixed-use development project. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has thrown his support behind the Baltimore bid, although he also said he’d back other sites in Maryland.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III in September identified three sites the county is pitching to Amazon, including one next to the University of Maryland’s College Park campus.

Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer told The Washington Business Journal last week that the state is preparing a historic tax incentive program to try to lure Amazon to Maryland. He said it would be “the biggest incentive offer in the state’s history by a mile,” according to the report.

Montgomery County leaders have kept details about its bid largely under wraps. Leggett revealed to a group of real estate professionals in September that the White Flint Mall site could be among the locations the county pitches to Amazon.

Other than that, he hasn’t provided any other clues as to where the company’s new headquarters could fit in the county. However, he has said the county will make a “very competitive” and aggressive pitch to try to land the company.

County Council President Roger Berliner said during a press briefing Monday he has urged Leggett to release some details about the county’s bid.

“There was some question in the business community as to whether or not we could get our act together and really put forth a competitive bid,” Berliner said. “I’m willing to bet when people see how strong this proposal is, it will address that concern. We will have a very competitive proposal. We check off all the boxes that Amazon is looking for.”

Ultimately, he said it is not his decision to identify the sites the county is pitching or to release details about the proposal. He said he believes Leggett should release as much information as is “allowed to be released” and noted that other communities have released some details about their bids.

Amazon is requesting a site with about 100 acres, with an existing building of at least 500,000 square feet, for its first phase of the new headquarters project in 2019.

The site would need to accommodate growth because Amazon is planning to build up to 8 million square feet of office space through 2027, according to its request for proposals. The site would eventually accommodate up to 50,000 employees.

The company is seeking a North American location in close proximity to an urban center with access to mass transit, near an airport. It plans to select a location next year.

Leggett has talked about the pitfalls of Amazon’s headquarters competition. He’s described it as “a selection process on steroids” and acknowledged that the project could bring more traffic and higher demand on infrastructure if the county were selected.

Lacefield said the county might release its bid if the county is not selected to advance in the early rounds. If Montgomery proceeds, he said, the county might announce the sites to provide notice to neighborhoods that could be affected if the project were built locally.

“Right now, we’re focused on winning Amazon and doing the things needed for us to win,” Lacefield said.

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