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Markham Headquartered Bluewrist Using Edge-Based AI to Power Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Plants Urban Growth Outside of Downtown Cores: Should We Pay More Attention?

A Moment of Reflection for the Greater Toronto Area on Amazon HQ2 Locations

YORK LINK BLOG SERIES

Part 1 | A Moment of Reflection for the Greater Toronto Area on Amazon HQ2 Locations
Part 2 | Urban Growth Outside of Downtown Cores: Should We Pay More Attention?
Part 3 | Tech in the GTA: A ‘Cluster of Clusters’ That Deserves Unpacking, Attention, and Promotion

**PART ONE OF A THREE PART SERIES**

Following a year-long – and at times very public – process it was announced that Amazon’s HQ2 would be split between the transforming quasi-suburban neighborhoods of Long Island City, New York and Crystal City, Virginia. Both locations are urban growth areas that fall outside of traditional downtown areas that were highlighted in many of the public submissions in the bid competition.

Amazon received 238 bids from cities across North America, each vying to host the company’s second headquarters. Included was a collaborative bid from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which attracted significant global attention as one of the first bids to be made public. It received further attention in the media and business community when GTA’s bid was shortlisted into the Top 20 by the tech and e-tail giant.

This was an undisputed achievement for the Toronto area and a coming-of-age moment for its fast growing technology community. However, pending the release of additional details surrounding the final announcement, we may need to take a moment to reflect on Amazon’s location selection, beyond talk of tax breaks or HQ2’s housing or talent implications.

This moment of reflection begs the question:

Are we short-selling ourselves as it relates to potential locations where we collectively think major technology or head office investments should occur within the Greater Toronto Area?

Amazon’s surprising (or not) HQ2 locations of choice: two formerly quasi-suburban redevelopment communities

Long Island City | Photo Credit: mysliceoftheapple.com

Long Island City | Photo Credit: mysliceoftheapple.com

As we now know, Amazon has chosen not to setup HQ2 in Manhattan or Downtown DC. Rather the massive investments that are bringing a potential of 25,000 jobs respectively to each HQ2 office are in the outer area of two large metro area cores. Two places that are going through a quasi-suburban to-urban transformation, creating a hybrid mix of living styles.

The first is Long Island City. With a local population of 70,000 it is a fast growing neighbourhood in Queens: part of the New York metro area just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan. The area is redeveloping from “a nothing neighborhood with a semi-industrial mix of businesses and some residents,” according to CNBC, to a vibrant, primarily residential, high-rise growth community, and soon-to-be home of one half of Amazon HQ2.

The second selection of Crystal City and its local population of 25,000 is a neighbourhood in Arlington County, Virginia; just south of downtown DC.

Crystal City | Photo Credit: ARLnow.com

Crystal City | Photo Credit: ARLnow.com

It’s characterized by the media as a “boring” location that is “the opposite of hip.” It is “populated by ’70s and ’80s-era office buildings” with a “sometimes empty streetscape” and “large swaths of vacant lands,” but also the soon-to-be home to the other of half of Amazon HQ2.

Many North American cities – the Greater Toronto Area included – pitched Amazon on hip and busy downtown districts that are home to brand names in tech, an energetic millennial workforce, and a vibrant brick-and-beam entrepreneurship start-up scene, alongside shiny glass corporate towers.

This brings us back around to the moment of reflection from earlier. Are we collectively doing enough in the GTA to promote and celebrate the tech hubs and urban transformation areas that exist throughout the entirety of the Greater Toronto Area?

– By the York Link Team


Part 1 | A Moment of Reflection for the Greater Toronto Area on Amazon HQ2 Locations
Part 2 | Urban Growth Outside of Downtown Cores: Should We Pay More Attention?
Part 3 | Tech in the GTA: A ‘Cluster of Clusters’ That Deserves Unpacking, Attention, and Promotion

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