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Fitting HQ2 in the HUB: What an Amazon HQ in Boston could look like

Author: Aaron Jodka

By Aaron Jodka | September 2017

As you’ve probably seen, Amazon is on the hunt for a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. But this isn’t just a token location: it is looking for up to eight million SF of space upon full build-out, and the company could employ 50,000 workers. Let’s put some of those numbers into perspective.

How much is 8 million SF of space, really?

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  • About three additional Prudential and Hancock (200 Clarendon) towers (by rentable office area)
  • Every SF of office and lab added in East Cambridge since 1989
  • The total combined rentable SF of Fenway, North Station, and South Station submarkets
  • More SF than exists in all of Burlington (7.4 million SF), or Marlborough (6.3 million SF), or Quincy (5.4 million SF)
  • Every converted, rehabbed, and new-construction SF of office and lab in the Seaport dating back to 1988

What about 50,000 people?

  • That’s every person that has moved into Boston since the 2010 Census
  • All jobs added in Suffolk County since 2014
  • 7.5% of the most recent estimate of Suffolk County employment
  • Fenway Park and TD Garden hold a combined 55,000 spectators

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  • Amazon employs an estimated 40,000 people in Seattle
  • The state’s largest employer, Partners, has 58,000 employees. Harvard and MIT combined employ 34,000

When it comes to Amazon’s criteria for the space, Greater Boston appears to be in good shape. We have mass transit, great access to the airport, talent, and options for development. Eight million SF is tricky, but for an opportunity such as Amazon (or any employer of that magnitude), we could find a way. Whether that means rezoning areas, combining development parcels, increasing density on already approved development, or anything in between, it will be interesting to see what the Commonwealth puts together as its pitch.

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