If Raleigh wins Amazon HQ2, look for skyline to change

Posted May 31, 2018 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:43 p.m. EDT

The towers that shape Raleigh's skyline bear some big names: Red Hat, PNC Plaza, Wells Fargo. Sources tell WRAL TechWire that another national brand is considering joining that club.

Amazon, in a search for a second headquarters, has a list of 20 locations under consideration. The company has announced plans for a $5 billion investment that would create some 50,000 jobs over a decade-long process, and sources say downtown Raleigh is where the e-commerce giant is most likely to build what would be a massive complex if North Carolina's capital is the winner.

"Just imagine the impact of that scale. It is hard to believe," said WRAL TechWire editor Rick Smith.

"What I am told is, when Amazon came to the Triangle and talked with local officials, the meeting went better than any expectations," Smith said.

Real estate broker Dwayne Leatherwood, of Triangle Real Estate Group, said an Amazon HQ would "really change the whole dynamic of our market here."

Available property, especially within downtown Raleigh, is tight, he said.

"We do have limited land that is available downtown, so what they are talking about is going up," Leatherwood said.

"Buildings would have to be built," a source told WRAL TechWire.

Amazon has said that its project would require some 8 million square feet of office space.

"They could build in Raleigh just like they have in Seattle," a source said.

Smith pointed out that Amazon is looking to hire the equivalent of the total employees who currently work in Research Triangle Park.

"We are talking probably multiple skyscrapers along the lines of three bank towers you see downtown right now in order to accommodate the number of people that Amazon is considering putting in their HQ2 project," he said.

While Amazon is eyeing downtown locations, Apple is close to announcing a deal that would bring as many as 10,000 jobs to North Carolina, including a major investment in RTP. Sources have told WRAL TechWire to expect that announcement in early June.