A second headquarters for Amazon? It won't be in Arlington

The city of Arlington offered Globe Life Park as a potential site for Amazon's HQ2 — along with potentially $921 million in incentives — but on Tuesday the city revealed it has been eliminated in its bid for the online retailer's second headquarters.

Arlington said in a news release it is "no longer moving forward" in the selection process but noted that it was invited to make an in-person pitch and provide a site visit for HQ2. Arlington was part of a DFW area bid submitted by the Dallas Regional Chamber.

Arlington officials found out about two weeks ago that the city didn't make the shortlist as Amazon narrowed the field. Other sites in DFW made the cut.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said in an interview that Amazon was looking for a more urban environment and that probably led to Arlington's not making it to the next round.

"I think it was looking for a more downtown, urban environment but it intrigued them very much that they could come in here and build a downtown right here," Williams said.

The city offered 1.7 million square feet at the current home of the Texas Rangers that will become obsolete once the baseball team moves into Globe Life Field across the street in 2020.

Amazon visited Globe Life Park for about 45 minutes on Feb. 13, according to documents released Tuesday by the city. City Manager Trey Yelverton said Amazon's curiosity was piqued by Arlington’s “vision” for developing the entire area around the ballpark.

If Amazon chooses to go elsewhere locally, Yelverton said it will benefit everybody in DFW.

"It's such a large footprint —with 50,000 direct jobs — that it would influence the entire Metroplex," Yelverton said.

Arlington officials said they talked about transportation with Amazon and don’t believe it was the deciding factor in the city's elimination. They also talked about autonomous vehicles, ride share and the potential for high-speed rail.

Amazon is expected to announce the location for its second headquarters this year.

Officials with the Dallas Regional Chamber, which served as the umbrella agency for all North Texas cities wishing to include a property in the Amazon HQ2 proposal, declined to specify Tuesday how many cities in the region are still in the running for a winning bid.

Fort Worth's planned Panther Island project north of downtown was among the sites originally pitched. There were numerous sites pitched in the Dallas area as well, including a site near the American Airlines Center where the Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks play.

"If individual cities choose to publicly share incentive proposals or other elements of a response, that is their prerogative," the Dallas Regional Chamber said in an email response through its spokesman, Darren Grubb.

"As is normally the case when submitting a regional response to an economic development opportunity, the DRC (Dallas Regional Chamber) has committed to responding cities that we will not make the response public, as communities may include competitive or other confidential information — and we respect that," the statement read. "The incentive proposals of individual cities are also not for the DRC to disclose."

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said the city is still supporting DFW's regional bid.

“The city of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Chamber continues to work closely with the Dallas Regional Chamber as we submitted a single, unified response as a region to Amazon," Price said. "We know the list has been narrowed. Fort Worth remains supportive of the region’s efforts to secure Amazon HQ2, as it would have a tremendous impact on the entire region.”

Williams said the Amazon bid process has convinced Arlington that it could land a company headquarters and said that numerous entities have inquired about the site. Other possibilities include condos, more office space or educational institutions with the field being used for park space or youth sports.

“We’re extremely confident that Globe Life Park will find a new life and continue to be a vibrant component of our world-class Entertainment District and anchor our future Central Business District,” Williams said in an earlier news release. “The interest by Amazon and its executives strongly confirms that this site has great economic development potential. It is primed for a continued substantive commercial presence in Arlington."

Arlington offered Amazon performance-based incentives valued at a projected $921 million that included a grant for hiring Arlington residents, a 100 percent real and business personal property tax abatement for 10 years and a waiver of building and impact fees, according to documents released Tuesday by the city..

Arlington projected Amazon would bring 96,000 permanent jobs, almost $50 billion in salary and wages and roughly $4 billion in taxable sales.

The incentive package required Amazon to invest $5 billion and create 50,000 jobs.

As they made their announcement Tuesday, Arlington officials also publicly released several hundred pages of internal documents that were used to prepare for Amazon's February visit to the city.

The emails highlighted two planned visits: a Feb. 12 meeting at the Dallas Regional Chamber offices to discuss incentives privately with Amazon representatives, and a Feb. 13 tour of the Arlington entertainment district. The Feb. 12 meeting apparently included brief presentations by each city regarding what incentives they could offer, with Arlington's presentation scheduled to last 45 minutes.

Internally, the bid was dubbed Project Dozer, according to several versions of PowerPoint presentations and emails.

The 45-minute visit to Arlington's entertainment district included welcoming comments from Williams and from Blake Cordish, a principal and real estate development expert for Cordish Companies, the Maryland firm that is overseeing design and construction of the Texas Live! entertainment area adjacent to the new Globe Life Field.

Leading up to the February visit, Arlington and the Dallas Regional Chamber officials continued to refine their message in email exchanges — touting Arlington as one of the most diverse cities in the United States, and a place where elected leaders are willing to do deals with corporate partners such as General Motors, the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys.

The emails also touted the city as a testing ground for driverless shuttles, such as Milo and Via, its group rideshare program, as well as being located just eight minutes from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

And the Amazon emails urged participants to stick to the rigid time schedule, limit attendance to the minimum number of economic development experts required and to not present Amazon representatives with gifts valued at more than $50, which they would not be able to accept.

The group toured the entertainment district by golf cart, and city leaders pointed out to Amazon officials the potential future site of a high-speed rail line just north of the ballpark.

"The high-speed rail stop will connect Arlington with Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston," a portion of the presentation reads.

That portion was intended to be read aloud by either Cordish or Yelverton, although the document doesn't specify which person would read what lines.

"(An) elevated platform from (the) site to (the) high-speed rail site will transport AV (autonomous) vehicles," the document reads. "Unencumbered by traditional mass transit, Arlington is embracing the transportation technologies of the future with 'rideshare' and automated vehicle technology."

Arlington has no mass transit and voters have rejected public transportation three times.

But while losing the Amazon bid, Arlington made a case for the soon-to-be-vacated Globe Life Park as a prime site for a corporate location.

"The city of Arlington’s presentation to Amazon as part of the HQ2 process confirms for us that Globe Life Park can be a vibrant and successful enterprise going forward," said Rob Matwick, Texas Rangers executive vice president of business operations. "We are excited about the possibilities and have been contacted by groups that have shared very interesting and diverse thoughts. At this time, we are doing our diligence and listening to ideas until the best and highest use emerges."

Staff writer Sandra Baker contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna
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