Amazon Looks Elsewhere

Let’s start with a disclaimer: there has been no official announcement from Amazon about the results of its year-long HQ2 search. Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article that sourced several people “familiar with the search” and reported that the online giant was in final negotiations to locate in both Queens, NY and the Crystal City section of Arlington, VA. The assumption is that Amazon will split its second HQ into two equal parts in those cities. Speculation about Crystal City arose over the weekend, prompting even Mayor Bill Peduto to make a statement that Pittsburgh had not been contacted by Amazon.

Amazon's Seattle Campus 2017
Amazon’s Seattle HQ

I think David Ruppersberger, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, got it right when he said that Pittsburgh won by making the short list. The effort to respond to the proposal taught Pittsburgh’s civic leaders even more about how to position the region and the public relations that have followed the city since has been valuable. Now we don’t have to deal with the mess that would have followed actually winning the project.

Pittsburgh’s tech sector is blossoming in multiple directions. Healthcare research is entering a potentially rapid expansion period. The energy sector holds great promise. And the petrochemical and plastics industries have yet to reveal what will happen when several ethane crackers open by the middle of the next decade. The regional economy is a good bet to create 50,000 new jobs over the next decade without having all of our eggs in one basket. Anyone remember how that worked out the last time Pittsburgh was reliant on one industry above all others?

Lots of interesting little private projects out to bid as the year winds down. In case you missed the BreakingNews email last week, Volpatt Construction was awarded the $6 million UPMC/IRMC Cancer Center at Indiana Hospital and Pitt chose PJ Dick for its Peterson Sports Complex field house expansion. Mistick Construction is taking bids on the $12 million development in New Kensington that will be the 47-unit Pioneer Apartments and offices for Wesley Family Services. Al. Neyer Inc. has started construction on three new industrial buildings: the third and fourth buildings at Clinton Commerce Park (268,000 square feet total) and a 50,000 square foot build-to-suit for Don’s Appliances at 251 Bilmar Drive.


  1. I believe we finally have an answer on who was behind the rush rush warehouse project in Finley last years. There was great activity and then it shut down. Amazon had a deal to create 5k jobs in PA but then cancelled it when HQ2 was announced. I agree with your observations that things are going good without the Amazon HQ2. Pittsburgh has paid a price in the last 50 years by being concentrated in Steel and then a hub with US Air. Amazon and others will return when it makes good sense which is the best way to operate

    1. Diversification has served Pittsburgh better than an economic home run, although some of the singles and doubles are starting to look like they could become four-baggers soon. It’s been pretty well confirmed that Amazon was the million-square-foot user in Findlay but the last mile logistics of online fulfillment keep shifting. Amazon continues to build fulfillment centers and will probably come back to this one but the scope of what it will need may change. As an employer, Amazon actually has a pretty big footprint on South Side and will likely keep expanding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *