Amazon is in the advanced stages of placing its second headquarters in Northern Virginia, sources close to the matter told The Washington Post, as the retail giant zeroes in on a self-imposed deadline to make the closely watched decision.
The Post reported on Saturday that Amazon has held detailed discussions about the possibility of opening its second outpost in Crystal City, a residential and business area strategically positioned south of the nation's capital. Amazon is said to be mulling how quickly it could move employees, its physical plant and how it could make the decision public, people close to the process told the publication.
Amazon's planning was more in-depth than it has had with other potential locations in Northern Virginia, and other cities across the U.S., The Post stated. Yet on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the tech giant's list of potential finalists included Dallas and New York City.
In fact, the retail behemoth is said to be so serious about Crystal City that the area's premier developer, JBG Smith, has pulled some of its buildings off the leasing market to make way for Amazon, The Post reported, citing unnamed public and private officials close to the process. It's possible that Amazon may also be in similar talks with other cities considered finalists, the report cautioned.
Separately, sources told CNBC that Amazon and local officials had a "very productive" and "very long" conference call on Friday. A potential incentive package may include a "very generous" transportation incentive to alleviate traffic fears, as well as educational aspects to ensure Amazon has a pipeline to a skilled workforce.
These sources told CNBC that a final decision is "close" and may come down to Northern Virginia or Austin, Texas — or perhaps a split between both cities.
Amazon declined to respond to CNBC's request for comment, but a spokesperson said the company "remain[ed] committed to making a final decision before the end of the year."
However, Mike Grella, Amazon's director of economic development, had some choice words for those speculating on Crystal City's chances. Grella posted on Twitter that those leaking information about the selection process were "not doing Crystal City any favors." He also hinted that Amazon compelled finalists to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that the leakers may be violating.
As the Internet retail giant continues to assess 20 locations on its shortlist for its second headquarters ahead of its year-end deadline, CEO Jeff Bezos said this week that the decision is ultimately one you make "with your heart."
In an on-stage interview in New York on Thursday with journalist and author Walter Isaacson, Bezos did not leave any hints about which of the cities on his shortlist he is leaning toward for HQ2. But he clarified that after Amazon has all the data to back up its options, in the end the decision will come down to a gut feeling.
"Ultimately the decision will be made with intuition after gathering and studying a lot of data," Bezos said. "[T]he best way to make it is you collect as much data as you can, you immerse yourself in that data, but then you make that decision with your heart."
Over the past few months, Amazon executives have reportedly revisited several of the locations on its shortlist, including Newark, New Jersey, New York City and Chicago, according to an October report in The Wall Street Journal.
The list below are the 20 locations currently in the running:
The Post's full report can be found on its website.