District residents have mixed feelings about Amazon HQ2 potentially moving to D.C.

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The Shaw-Howard neighborhood is a potential site for the Amazon campus. Recent developments in the area may either incentivize or detract from choosing the area. Photo courtesy of Amanda Menas.
The Shaw-Howard neighborhood is a potential site for the Amazon campus. Recent developments in the area may either incentivize or detract from choosing the area. Photo courtesy of Amanda Menas.

By: Amanda Menas

As the city moves toward a future projected to include one million residents by 2045, development in all sectors is inevitable. Specifically, issues of affordable housing, the homelessness crisis, and ever-increasing gentrification were brought to the forefront when four locations within the District were placed on the short list for Amazon HQ2.

The announcement in January of this year, coupled with the July job posting calling for a D.C.-based economic development manager, indicated to residents and home buyers that if they were considering moving, now is the time before prices increase.

“It’s on everyone’s mind,” said Jonathan Fox, a realtor for Compass and principal at the Fox Group. He continued, “Since January of this year, every buyer and ever seller mentions that as a part of some curiosity factor, all the way down to their buying decision.”

The application to Amazon highlighted the Anacostia Riverfront, Capitol Hill East, NoMa-Union Station, and Shaw-Howard University, as potential spots for the campus. With little to no discussion from the perspective of local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) or the DC Council, the announcement drew both deep criticisms and applause.

From the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, the obviously optimistic perspective highlights the ability for the generated tax revenue Amazon would bring to pay for housing and transportation improvements across the city.

The office went on to state, “Mayor [Muriel] Bowser has made housing a top priority by investing $100 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund each year and allocating over a billion dollars in programs and resources that help make Washington, D.C. affordable.”

Major incentives for the executive branch of D.C. government to support Amazon coming to the city include the 50,000 proposed new jobs for residents. However, the ObviouslyNotDC campaign points to the relocation reimbursement of up to $7,500 for new employees moving in, demonstrating the city is not prioritizing the existing residents who could fill those jobs.

Monica Kamen, the Co-Director of the Fair Budget Coalition, said the city needs to consider the impact Amazon had on Seattle as an example of the negative consequences the company brings to metropolitan areas. Kamen is also a member of the ObviouslyNotDC campaign.   

“They held Seattle hostage. Is that the kind of neighbor we want to invite here?” Kamen asked.

Commissioner and Chairperson Daniel Ridge from ANC 6B09, the area representing Capitol Hill East that would be directly impacted if Amazon H2Q moves to the city, also expressed dissent.

“In my view, HQ2 is a net negative,” said Ridge. He worried small retail businesses that attract buyers to the Capitol Hill market would be threatened by Amazon. As a result, it would decrease opportunities for neighborhood amenities. And it would increase property value to the point that his own home would become worth more than he could afford to pay.

Regardless of the choice Amazon makes, groups and individuals on every level are thinking about housing across the city. The hope for residents and ANC members alike is that they will prioritize long-term District residents when they make the final decision.