Amazon announces 2 billion in donations to VA, despite locals’ growing concerns over HQ2


Image via Amazon: Construction site for one of Amazon’s HQ2 Arlington buildings, just across the Potomac River from D.C.

Kyle Diederich, Staff Writer

Amazon has announced it is fully committed to completing its original pre-pandemic plans for its new Arlington, Virginia headquarters and promised 2 billion in investments to the area, however, many locals are still concerned about sudden price influxes in the local real estate market. 


Back in 2017, after long speculation by the public,  Amazon officially announced it was holding a contest to seek out a city to house its second headquarters. In total, 238 cities submitted bids in the hopes of being Amazon’s selection. Roughly a year later in late 2018 Amazon announced it would be selecting Arlington, Virginia to build its new, second headquarters. Upon their selection, Amazon stated it would be investing $2.5 billion into the project and would be bringing 25,000 high paying jobs to the state of Virginia. In addition two colleges have been battling to secure funding for an expansion into the Arlington area, Virginia Tech and George Mason University. Ultimately Virginia Tech won the bid and announced it would be moving the area along with Amazon, building an all new tech campus. This new campus was proposed and organized between the college and the state in an attempt to help convince Amazon to move into the area, and it succeeded. To the excitement of many these plans also instilled fear and concern in many of the locals.


In recent years Northern Virginia has been well known for its precarious housing market. Close to Washington D.C. and home to millions, it already is well known for high prices, living expenses, and seemingly endless amounts of traffic. So when locals heard of the decision many became deeply concerned. When Amazon announced their plans hundreds of local real estate agents were flooded with inquiries. Michelle Doherty, a local real estate agent said, “That day in November, I got more Zillow calls, inquiries and leads off of Zillow than I did the entire month of October.” Many speculators have already started asking homeowners to sell. 


As for the low-income population, the coming of Amazon could have disastrous effects for thousands. Renters have become increasingly concerned over rent raises and living expenses skyrocketing past the high numbers they currently are. Local resident Ingris Moran said, “Many people’s children can’t afford to live in their hometown due to high rents and home prices, Amazon will only make this worse.” Businesses have become worrisome as well. 

Amazon plans bike-friendly headquarters in Arlington, Virginia: IMAGES - Business Insider
Rendering of HQ2, Image via Business Insider

Currently, Northern Virginia is one of the most expensive places to own and manage a business. Thousands of local business owners will likely see noticeable rent increases as a direct result of Amazons arrival. This would place tremendous strain on all small businesses and even larger companies as well, likely puting many out. Amazon also isn’t the only thing with which local businesses have to contend. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced thousands to close their doors. Both of these factors will and are absolutely devastating to all businesses, especially small ones. If small businesses go out, many locals fear large businesses will take their place entirely.


After receiving endless amounts of mail and phone calls from angry and concerned locals, Amazon has announced its plans to gain public trust and approval in its hub cities. They have pledged to invest over $2 billion dollars towards affordable housing in their three main hub cities; Seattle, Tennessee and Arlington. Unfortunately for Amazon, they made their announcements at the same time the country turned their attention to the coverage of the Capitol Hill riots.


Despite this push, many locals still aren’t convinced. The money may help renters and homeowners but it won’t change other concerns many have such as what will happen to small businesses when rents rise? How will people afford the increased living expenses? What new infrastructure will be required to allow for flow of traffic as the number of people in the area increases? 


Amazon, eager to get their HQ2 buildings fully operational and running, still has many issues that will need to be tended to in order to satisfy the local population. In terms of growth, this means big money for the state of Virginia as virtually everything in Northern Virginia is going to increase in value as time goes on. For now, locals’ questions remain mostly unanswered as Amazon continues its plans to fully develop it’s Arlington locations into Amazon HQ2.