Residents in Crystal City react to news of potential new Amazon HQ2 location

Crystal City residents react to potential new Amazon HQ2 location. (Photo: Richard Reeve, ABC7)

The high-rise building, at 1851 South Bell Street in Crystal City is an unusual structure. A colorful, giant tarp covers most of the upper floors.

But soon, this building could be known for something else: Amazon’s coveted second headquarters, known as HQ2.

“I think it’s actually pretty exciting,” says building engineer Khaled Eldomiaty, playing a game of outdoor ping pong in the courtyard below. “Getting a large government contract in the area.”

The potential numbers are staggering: A $5-billion investment by the retail giant, and the prospect of 50,000 jobs. The Washington Post reports there are “advanced discussions” about opening HQ2 in the Arlington neighborhood.

The newspaper says the talks have included how quickly the company “would move employees there, which buildings it would occupy, and how an announcement would be made to the public,” citing sources close to the selection process.

Amanda Downin, a child caregiver from Georgetown, says she excited about a potential Crystal City selection.

“I think it's an amazing opportunity to bring more jobs in the community,” she declares.

The Post says top real estate developer JGB Smith is pulling buildings off the leasing market, including the South Bell Street property and another, just across the street, at 1770 Crystal Drive. Neither Amazon or JGB Smith are commenting on a possible deal in the area.

Eldomiaty says he likes the idea of an Amazon HQ2 in Crystal City, but worries about housing coast going up.

“How many people are going to keep moving over here, if that happens?,” he asks. “If it’s going to be too busy, too cluttered. The traffic.”

In Crystal City’s favor: Reagan Airport, Metro access just around the block, and the Route 1 corridor close by.

Supporters of the location say there would be a ripple effect that would be a boon to the local economy.

“It's just not Amazon, it's everyone supporting Amazon, it would carry, it could cascade,” says David White, from Arlington. “The markets build off it. There's probably a symbiotic relationship going on with the market with the economics of them coming in.”

The incentive package to lure HQ2 to the area hasn’t been made public, but likely contains tax breaks and promises of infrastructure improvements.

Emma Ruehl, who lives right across the street from the Bell Street location, is preparing to use Metro as her way to get around. She too, is intrigued by the idea of a new headquarters in the area, but believes there will be a price to pay for all those new jobs.

“I'm worried about the cost of living, it's already pretty high here,” she says. “So I think it'll drive that up, but it’ll be good for business. There’s always pros and cons for something like that.”

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