Amazon Dallas Visit Thrills Some, Worries Others About Possible Incentives

Downtown business people dream about more customers

A report that representatives from Amazon visited Dallas in February to scout it as a possible second company headquarters city thrilled some people Wednesday while sparking concerns among others about incentives the company may expect.

The Dallas Morning News said four sources confirmed the February visit and that Amazon favors downtown Dallas locations among North Texas options.

"I think it would be pretty amazing. We definitely would see a lot more customers here," said Kass Kaiser, a manager at the Purple Onion Restaurant on Main at Field Street.

The restaurant moved downtown two years ago to take advantage of growing vibrancy.

"In the past, downtown streets were not that busy, especially toward the evening. And now it's more lively," said Sameena Pezeshki, with the restaurant.

The Dallas Morning News report indicates the Amazon site selection people were in North Texas even before a visit reported last to Washington D.C. area sites. The company says a second headquarters location would eventually employ up to 50,000 well-paid workers.

Since aircraft company Boeing snubbed Dallas in 2001 with a selection of Chicago for its corporate relocation, downtown Dallas has added more arts district features, Klyde Warren Park and thousands more residents in new downtown dwellings. Amazon has said it is seeking a vibrant urban area with mass transit and other transportation connections.

"I think Dallas could be a very good place for Amazon, and I'm very encouraged that they like the urban core," said Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston, who represents downtown Dallas.

Several downtown locations are known to be candidates.

The former Reunion Arena site is close to Union Station with rail transit service. The empty building formerly occupied by The Dallas Morning News is across the street from Union Station, an immediate option for new tenants. Nearby vacant land along Riverfront Boulevard is adjacent to the proposed site for a high-speed rail station for 90-minute service to Houston. Surface parking lots south of Dallas City Hall have already been announced as the site for a development with about one million square feet of office space, exactly what Amazon has said it will need for a second headquarters.

"Dallas could be a wonderful partner for Amazon if Amazon will be a wonderful partner for Dallas," Kingston said.

Amazon's amazing expansion in the current headquarters of Seattle has contributed to soaring housing prices. Kingston said tech companies are not doing enough to help their home cities, and he does not want to see the same thing happen in Dallas.

"We need to make sure that the incentives that are offered to Amazon don't rob our working class of the ability to really benefit from the new business that Amazon might bring," Kingston said.

The people who run the Purple Onion restaurant see only the bright side of a possible Amazon expansion.

"If they choose to come to downtown Dallas, that would be a smart decision," Sameena Pezeshki said.

The tech website Geekwire reported Wednesday that Amazon representatives are visiting all 20 of the finalist cities.

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