A year into Amazon’s HQ2 search, Austin is still waiting: For the past year, Angelos Angelou has faced the same question time after time. He’s come to expect it in calls with journalists, or when talking to fellow economists and business partners.
Where will Amazon build its second headquarters?
It’s been one of the biggest questions of the business world since Sept. 7, 2017 — the day Amazon announced plans for its giant new project.
The company publicly invited every North American city to bid for the development, promising them that its eventual pick would receive $5 billion in investment from the company over 15 to 17 years, along with up to 50,000 high-paying jobs.
“We look forward to working with you,” Amazon told cities in its request for proposal for the development it has called HQ2. It also boasted that its investment in its hometown Seattle had pumped $38 billion into the local economy from 2010 to 2016.
Since then, however, a year’s worth of days have passed.
As the process has gone on, with little public comment from Amazon, the tension has continued to rise.
“This has been going on for so long that everyone is just anxious to figure out who Amazon is going to pick,” said Angelou, the head of Austin-based economic consultancy Angelou Economics. “There will be quite an amount of debate in the community that wins it about the opportunity, but also the challenges.”
The race for HQ2 began last year. City leaders across the country tried to publicly sway Amazon to pick their locations. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed $7 billion in tax incentives. Chicago created a 600-person HQ2 committee. The University of Texas at Dallas offered Amazon 100 acres. Stonecrest, a Georgia city near Atlanta, proposed to rename part of its incorporated area after Amazon.
By January, the online retailer had whittled a list of 238 initial bids to 20 finalists — with Austin and Dallas among them.
But even for cities left off the finalist list, Angelou said, the exercise provided some benefit.
“It forced a lot of communities to look internally and try to put teams together,” he said. “For the first time, many cities are engaged in regional economic development.”
Facebook to lease entire 17-story tower at Austin’s Domain, sources say: Social media giant Facebook Inc. plans to add to its Austin presence by leasing an entire new office tower at the Domain, according to multiple local real estate industry sources.
Facebook will lease all of Domain 12, a 17-story office building under construction at the Domain mixed-use project in North Austin, according to commercial real estate brokers who spoke to the American-Statesman on the condition of anonymity.
Facebook currently occupies three floors in Domain 8, another office building at the Domain, and has offices in downtown Austin, where it employs about 700 people.
It’s unclear how many workers Facebook might be planning to add in Austin. Facebook executives declined to comment. “We don’t have anything to share at this time,” Kyle Gerstenschlager, a Facebook spokesman, said via email.
Domain 12 is being developed by Dallas-based TIER REIT and Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group.
TIER REIT and Endeavor declined to confirm that Facebook would be the tenant for Domain 12, citing confidentiality agreements. TIER REIT issued a statement conforming only that it has completed a lease deal “with a Fortune 100 company” for the entire building, which will be about 320,000 square feet. The building, which will be the tallest at the Domain to date, is due to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019, the statement said.
Facebook’s newest lease comes on the heels of a large lease transaction in downtown Austin last year — 231,507 square feet of space the company plans to occupy in a 29-story office tower called Third + Shoal that is under construction at the site of the former Austin Music Hall. Facebook also occupies space in another downtown Austin office building called 300 West Sixth.
“Facebook’s continued growth in Austin is an affirmation of our exceptional work force and quality of life,” said Diana Holford, senior vice president in Austin with JLL, a global commercial real estate services firm. “Facebook joins Indeed, HomeAway (Expedia) and Amazon in providing both a central and suburban option for their employees.”
Last year, Katherine Shappley, head of Facebook’s Austin office, said the Third + Shoal lease would “expand our presence in the Austin area as part of our continued commitment to this thriving technology community. We’re delighted to be here and excited for what the future holds.”
Shappley at that time did not disclose Facebook’s hiring projections, what type of positions would be housed in Third + Shoal, or the projected move-in timetable.
GateHouse Media executive named new Statesman publisher: GateHouse Media has tapped a newspaper industry veteran to serve as the American-Statesman’s next publisher.
The company, which acquired the Statesman from Cox Media Group for $47.5 million in April, said last week that Patrick Dorsey will take over for Susie Biehle, who announced her impending retirement last week.
“Patrick is one of the strongest publishers in GateHouse,” said Bernie Szachara, GateHouse’s president of U.S. Newspaper Operations. “He is a passionate advocate for journalism and an effective champion for his staff. He is a strong community leader and a strategic executive who embraces changing business models, which is so critical today.”
Dorsey, an Old Dominion University graduate, most recently served as publisher of GateHouse’s Sarasota, Fla., Herald-Tribune. Dorsey was publisher of the Herald-Tribune when it won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times.
Dorsey also is regional vice president for GateHouse’s Coastal Publishing Group, which includes the Statesman and newspapers in Alabama and Florida – a position he will continue to hold in addition to his new role at the Statesman.
“Austin is a much larger operation,” Dorsey said. “It’s a high-growth area. I love that it’s a hub for the tech sector. I love state capitals and college towns. It’s just a very exciting opportunity.”
Earlier in his career, Dorsey spent nearly two decades with Gannett Co., including seven years as president and publisher of the Tallahassee, Fla., Democrat.
Dorsey starts his new position immediately, working alongside Biehle until she departs in late November.
Biehle, who came to the Statesman in November 2012, has led the newspaper during a time of tremendous industry change; national recognition for its journalism and advertising and marketing solutions; three Texas Newspaper of the Year honors; and the sale of the newspaper by Cox Media Group to GateHouse.
One of Dorsey’s first tasks will be to hire a new editor for the Statesman. Current Editor Debbie Hiott said last week that she was one of several employees who’d taken a voluntary buyout. Hiott will leave the Statesman on Sept. 30 after 28 years at the paper.
In addition, Dorsey said he intends to work to improve the Statesman’s profile in the Central Texas community by being “louder and more aggressive” about its “great employees doing great work.”