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A modest Amazon HQ2 proposal: build it on landfill near Battery Park City

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Now that New York City is officially a contender for Amazon’s second North American headquarters (or HQ2), people are wondering: Where would the tech giant actually put its headquarters if NYC actually wins the bid? (Right now, the chances of that happening seem slim—prognosticators have put Atlanta, Boston, and Austin at the top of the pack.)

In its official bid for HQ2, the city’s Economic Development Corporation named four areas as contenders: Midtown West (so, basically, Hudson Yards); Long Island City; the “Brooklyn Tech Triangle” (Dumbo, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Downtown Brooklyn); and the Financial District. But some of those areas naturally have more space than others; Hudson Yards, for example, is still in the process of becoming a neighborhood, and its second phase has yet to be realized, leaving plenty of room for a company like Amazon to put its stamp on things.

Head to the Financial District, though, and you’ll find far less space to work with. Which leads us to a proposal put forth by Charles J. Urstadt, who was the chief executive of the Battery Park City Authority when it launched in 1968. Writing in the Broadsheet (h/t Tribeca Citizen), he proposes using fill to create a new, 60-acre parcel of land that could be given over to Amazon directly. He continues:

Using fill to extend Battery Park City beyond its current northern border (roughly at Chambers Street) by half a mile (to a point just below Canal Street) would create more than 60 acres of additional new land in Tribeca, one of the most desirable residential and business districts in the United States. This would be more than room enough to build twice the square footage of offices that Amazon envisions, and still have space left over for apartment towers to house its employees (and even those of its subcontractors), while also constructing a beautiful series of parks and open spaces. This plan would create a sylvan, campus-like blank slate -- all overlooking the Hudson River -- on which Amazon could design its own ideal headquarters.


Urstadt claims that this plan would not only make sense from a land use standpoint, but from a financial one, too: By using the same land lease system that Battery Park City was founded on, he says, Amazon could pay a modest ground rent for the land, “which would increase gradually over time, but would always be lower than the Amazon’s cost to acquire land or buildings. That translates into a huge subsidy and powerful incentive for the firm to consider locating its HQ2 in Lower Manhattan.”

It’s an … interesting theory, that’s for sure. Could it actually work? We’ll let you weigh in on that in the comments.