CRYSTAL CITY, Va. — It’s been known for weeks now that Crystal City was at the top of Amazon’s list for its second headquarters.
The surprise on Tuesday was the involvement of Alexandria and Virginia Tech.
Amazon was looking for a place with high tech workers. What can Virginia Tech provide? High tech workers.
Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg says city leaders came up with the idea to get Virginia Tech involved since the university already had a facility in Alexandria. It didn’t take much convincing.
"We’ve been planning for about four years to build an Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia," said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. "When Amazon and Virginia came to us 14 months ago and said, ‘Would you help us build a higher-ed package to help with Amazon,’ I said, ‘We’re already working on it.’"
As a land-grand university, Virginia Tech is in every community of the state, said Sands. The university has several facilities in Northern Virginia, including one in Alexandria that’s been there for 49 years.
The $1 billion Innovation Campus will be located on land known as Oakville Triangle, now part of the new National Landing Amazon headquarters.
The university and state both committed to provide $250 million.
"The immediate need is in software engineering, computer science, machine learning, date analytics, technology policy. Those areas are at the center of the technology ecosystem that’s growing around Northern Virginia and the Washington region," said Sands.
Innovation Campus will focus on graduate degree programs and research opportunities. The campus will include a mix of academic, research, and innovation space, as well as areas for housing, industry partners. Most importantly, the campus will focus on collaboration, says Sands.
"This is total game changer for the city of Alexandria, for Arlington County and and for our region," said Alexandria mayor Allison Silberberg.
Both jurisdiction’s economic development teams have been working onto proposal for the past 14 months.
Chuck Bean, executive director of the Council of Governments says Amazon coming to the D.C. region is a non-brainer, "Amazon is looking for talent and we have the highest educated workforce in the country."
As for Crystal City, the landscape will begin to change.
"Before the end of this year., we will commence construction on 130,000 feet of new retail on Crystal drive anchored by an Alamo theater, a specialty grocery store and a multitude of restaurants, bars, and a neighborhood serving small shops," said Matt Kelly, JBG’s CEO.
Kelly says JBG will move forward with a plan to build up to 4,000 new apartment units, and four-million square feet of commercial space. He says Amazon’s selection of National Landing will enable the company to deliver on a promise of a more walkable, mixed-used environment with abundant green space.
National Landing is promising to be place where many of those 25,000 new high paid Amazon employees will enjoy living.
"I hope that Crystal City is going to be a place that feel equally as vibrant as somebody living here, visiting here or working here," said Katie Cristol, Arlington Board Chair.