Amazon’s call for a connected, pedestrian-friendly campus


(Photo credit: Simone Brunozzi via Flickr)

One of last week’s most talked about stories was Amazon’s bombshell announcement that the company is soliciting bids from cities to become its second home base in North America. The company is expected to invest approximately $5 billion to create space for as many as 50,000 workers, which is the size of many city central business districts. For reference, Charlotte’s total central city employment is 100,000 workers.

Among Amazon’s demands, they are insistent about finding a site(s) that is well connected to transit. Their RFP calls for infill or greenfield sites with “direct access to train, subway/metro, bus routes,” in addition to being located within 30 miles of a population center and 45 minutes from an international airport. For regions with at least 1 million residents, Amazon is seeking a campus that is pedestrian-friendly.

These criteria provide much to consider from a TOD perspective; competitive contenders will need to find ways to ramp up office and transit capacity for so many workers, determine what qualifying sites would best take advantage of existing or planned stations, and integrate the new headquarters into the existing urban form while minimizing any increases in vehicle miles traveled.

Some have raised concerns that making cities compete against each other will ultimately lead to wasted resources, and that the whole competition will be an exercise in frittering away taxpayer dollars to lure one of the largest companies in the country. But others believe that Amazon’s call for a connected campus illustrates the future of cities, and communities vying to lure coveted employees would do well to make these types of investments.

Whether a city lands Amazon or not, it should send a clear message to local leaders and officials about the things that corporations of today and tomorrow are looking for as they set up shop, as noted by Smart Growth America, and transit is near the top of the list.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.