The idea that Alexandria is bidding for the East Coast operations of Amazon seems highly problematic. When the City of Alexandria obtained the Patent & Trademark Office, it was a real achievement. Cheers also go to city officials who secured the new home of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Both provide an intellectual quotient to Alexandria.
The notion that the city could accommodate a business of 50,000 employees — mostly involved in mailing packages — within our limited and already densely populated boundaries ignores some realities. For example, we lack the infrastructure to move that many people, regardless of where they might live, into, out of, or around the city every day. Traffic already is heavy where an Amazon facility might even be possible.
Large numbers of Amazon workers might decide to live in Alexandria. If just 20 percent took that course the city almost immediately would be required to build new schools and expand existing ones. Moreover, rents would go up from the demand for housing and our community efforts at maintaining sufficient “affordable housing” for current residents likely would be in vain.
Experience also has shown that in order to entice an organization (e.g. NSF) or a business to locate in a community it often is necessary to offer generous tax relief enticements. Other cities are sure to. As a result the successful bidder often is without a direct revenue steam from the property for years but must pay for the infrastructure required immediately. The cost could be enormous to Alexandria taxpayers, already in 2018 and beyond facing considerably higher property taxes and fees for sewers, stormwater, schools and other purposes.
Let’s not stop seeking investments from high tech and intellectual content organizations in Alexandria but, while wishing the mail order retailer well, give Amazon a pass.