Amazon says it will prevent housing issues in Arlington while county officials come under fire

By Keya Vakil
May 7, 2019

In an attempt to ease the concerns of some locals, retail giant Amazon said its second headquarters in Arlington would not exacerbate housing problems the way the company did in Seattle.

Jay Carney, a senior vice president with the company, told the Washington Post that the company is able to plan for growth in Arlington in a way that it couldn’t in Seattle. Carney said that when Amazon started out in Seattle, executives didn’t know the company would grow the way it did and create as many high-paying jobs as it did, which caused a housing and homelessness crisis in the city.

While Amazon has mostly received a warm reception in Arlington, there is also concern that the company’s arrival will drive up housing prices and force low-and-middle-income residents out of the area, like it did in Seattle.

Carney countered this argument by saying the company is stable and has confidence in its projected growth, allowing it to plan in a more tangible way. He also said that the company is looking forward to working with the local government to “be part of the solution,” without turning over government functions like housing to private companies.

Carney also said that Amazon picked the Washington area for its diverse talent pool, and the company hopes to fill as many of the estimated 25,000 new jobs with local hires.

The reassurances from Amazon come on the heels of newly released emails and text messages that show Arlington County officials jumped through hoops to bring the company to the area.

Their efforts included providing Amazon representatives with an advance copy of questions they planned to ask at a public hearing and arranging hearings in front of friendly civic and business audiences.

The emails and text messages reveal a very friendly relationship between Arlington, Amazon and developer JBG Smith, but county leaders defended themselves and said their behavior had been appropriate.

Opponents, meanwhile, said the correspondence reveals that county officials ignored hard questions and worked hand-in-hand with developers to craft a shady deal that gave Amazon a $23 million incentive package.

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz told the Washington Post that Arlington has similar interactions and relationships with other entities, including residents, businesses, and community members.

Whether or not Amazon and Arlington’s efforts to reassure skeptical residents pays off, they’re likely to be aided by the fact that Amazon has started hiring for its HQ2 and is expected to post more positions this week.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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