From the Philly Inquirer:
When Amazon announced its search for a second North American headquarters, government officials, developers, and residents in cities nationwide embraced the prospect as decidedly good news.
Including many in Seattle.
While cities began immediately plotting ways to reel in the online retail giant, Seattle, for the first time in years, was catching its breath. After years of skyrocketing real estate prices, unprecedented development, and a record-breaking number of cranes in the sky as a result of Seattle’s tech boom, Amazon’s plan to expand elsewhere offered the city, finally, a reprieve.
Granted, Amazon’s presence has been extraordinary for Seattle. Since the company began building its campus there a decade ago, Amazon has provided jobs, investment, and a reputation that Seattle never could have imagined. Today, 40,000 well-paid employees bustle around the company’s urban campus. Amazon has built and rented 8.1 million square feet of downtown office space. At least $3.7 billion has been invested in the local economy. And Amazon’s presence has persuaded other tech companies — Uber, Airbnb, and Zillow — to locate in the city.
But with prosperity have come profound costs. By some measures, Seattle has become the fifth-most-expensive U.S. city and the ninth-priciest worldwide. The median price of a single-family home or condo in Seattle was $522,000 in August, according to real estate company Redfin, a 67 percent spike from April 2010, when Amazon opened its headquarters. Last month, the median rent for a one-bedroom jumped to $1,380, according to Apartment List. And a Seattle Times analysis found that Amazon occupies 19 percent of Seattle’s office space — putting more pressure on office rental prices, some argue.
Yet Amazon’s impact on Seattle’s housing market is undeniable, raising the question: Could Amazon create the same affordability crisis in its next location?
“Every city will be confronted with this if Amazon chooses it,” said Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist. But, “it gives cities the opportunity to define it. … To talk [in their proposals] about how the city could manage this growth.”