October 18, 2017

Worcester eyes 98 acres, $500M for Amazon HQ2

Courtesy/CIty of Worcester
Worcester is offering Amazon 98 acres off of Rte. 20 for the company's second headquarters and 50,000 jobs.

Worcester is offering online commerce giant Amazon 98 acres off of Rte. 20 and is prepared to offer up to $500 million in real estate tax savings and other incentives to secure the company's second headquarters.

The 60-page bid to land Amazon was unveiled Tuesday night and boasts of Worcester's recent progress and revitalization in its bid to lure the company to Worcester and the 50,000 jobs that would come to the city the Seattle-based company chooses.

In addition to this individual effort by the city to entice Amazon's HQ2, Worcester is participating in a separate statewide application.

In the city's individual bid, Mayor Joseph Petty, in a letter directed to Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos, said Worcester "combines the warmth of a small town with the vibrancy of a thriving metropolis."

Petty wrote of the city's recent growth, but also of some of the city's oldest and largest businesses that continue to grow. The city is within an hour's drive of 135 colleges, universities and institutes and about 8.5 million people live within a 60-mile radius -- both key asks by Amazon.

The city also included a video, which has been posted to Youtube.

The proposed site is three separate mostly-abutting parcels of 22.2 acres, 53.9 acres and 21.9 acres off of Rte. 20 owned by multiple private entities, according to the document. The land is currently zoned for manufacturing but can be rezoned for business.

Currently at the site are restaurants, auto dealers, warehouses and other businesses.

Amazon is seeking an initial space of 500,000 square feet that could rise to as much as 8 million square feet after full buildout.

The Worcester-Framingham Commuter rail would abut the site and provide quick access to Boston and Logan Airport -- another ask of the company.

Other sites in neighboring Auburn totaling more than 80 acres were also proposed.

By way of incentives, the city is offering a giant tax break of up to $500 million as part of a tax increment financing (TIF) plan over 20 years. The company would qualify for a complete exemption on personal property taxes over the duration of the TIF plan.

The city plans to get to work on workforce training by partnering with the area's colleges and will help Amazon apply for workforce training grants through state and private agencies.

In addition to other tax credits, the city is offering a $1 million U.S. Housing & Urban Development Section 108 loan, but if the company creates a minimum of 100 new full-time jobs for low-to-moderate-income Worcester residents in the company's first three years of operating in Worcester, the loan would be forgiven and function as a grant.

The city's legislative delegation on Beacon Hill and even U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) in Congress weighed in with a letter to the company, highlighting the city's rapid growth of late.

Petty, however, wrote the longest letter, even selling Amazon on the city's growing restaurant scene, art, culture and innovation.

"Once a manufacturing powerhouse that saw the rise of the industrial revolution, we have returned to our roots and built an economy based on innovation and entrepreneurship," Petty wrote. "The revitalized mill and factory buildings dotting our landscape maintain our historic integrity."

"Amazon HQ2 will help define our future as well as Amazon's."

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