It seems like a no-brainer.
Amazon announced in September that it would seek proposals from economic-development agencies for a second global headquarters — dubbed Amazon HQ2 — that would cost $5 billion to build, create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs and encompass as much as 8 million square feet.
The headquarters would operate on an equal basis with Amazon’s Seattle HQ, and the project prompted drooling on the part of eco-devo officials throughout North America. Proposals were submitted in October from 238 cities and regions, heralding from 54 states, provinces, territories and districts.
Included in those proposals was one from the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., which represents nine Front Range counties, including Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. The Metro Denver EDC released a redacted version of the proposal in November, revealing that it had submitted eight metro-area locations as possible locations for HQ2.
One of those is believed to be the former Storage Technology Corp./Sun Microsystems campus in Louisville. At 432 acres, the campus sits on U.S. Highway 36 along Northwest Parkway, providing a prime development spot between Boulder and Denver and rapid access to Denver International Airport.
Bancroft Capital announced in September that it was under contract to purchase the property from Phillips 66, and immediately began pitching it as a possible site for HQ2. The property already has access to utilities and at one time was slated for a 7,000-job renewable-energy research center.
That project would have been a perfect fit for the Front Range, solidifying Colorado’s status as a center for clean technology.
But 50,000 jobs? Even some economic-development officials and business leaders within the region quietly question whether the Louisville site could handle such a project. Imagine 50,000 additional jobs, with the accompanying traffic. Progress has recently been made on congestion along the U.S. Highway 36 corridor, but that many more commuters would require far more investment.
Add in spinoff jobs that would be created by the HQ2; that multiplier effect could add another two to three jobs for every one created by Amazon. So 50,000 could turn into 100,000 or even 150,000.
For a region already grappling with soaring housing prices, a severe labor shortage and continued transportation challenges, a project on the scope of Amazon would be difficult to manage.
But it’s probably a moot point. Analysts believe that Atlanta or Austin are most likely to secure the headquarters, with some outliers such as Dublin or Toronto being mentioned. Tom Clark, former CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., recently told a gathering at the Denver Press Club that Toronto would make sense, especially given the governmental health-care system, which would be a huge savings for Amazon.
Amazon is expected to announce finalists early in 2018. Meanwhile, Bancroft Capital is acquiring a great property in the Louisville StorageTek campus. Its proximity to Boulder and Denver, abundant acreage and easy access to DIA are among its greatest assets.
But they shouldn’t count on Amazon and its 8 million square feet just yet.
Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or at email@example.com.