Amazon opens second headquarters in Virginia

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By Amy Will

Business is up and running, 8,000 employees are already hard at work and a curious community has gotten a taste of the eclectic vibe inside Amazon’s second headquarters after its grand opening in Virginia last week.

Surrounded by executives and several elected officials from both Arlington and Alexandria, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) snipped the orange ribbon to officially welcome HQ2 – also known as Met Park – to Arlington’s National Landing neighborhood.

“I want to thank everyone from the broad Amazon family for believing in Virginia, for investing in Virginia, for partnering with Virginia,” Youngkin said to a room full of reporters, photographers, guests and Amazon employees.

“This journey began with what I think was a very smart decision
by Amazon to put their second headquarters here, a 2.5 billion-dollar investment right here in Virginia.”

Youngkin acknowledged the work of the previous ad-
ministration and championed the 25,000 new jobs Amazon
hopes to add by 2030.

“When I have a chance to tell the story of what’s happening here, I tell it proudly. Frequently. And, guess what? People come. It’s amazing to
see the flow of aspirations, the flow of talent and yes, the flow of individuals and families who want to make their home right here in Virginia,” Youngkin said.

Alexandria’s Vice Mayor Amy Jackson recalled being inside a warehouse in 2018 when the vision for HQ2 was born. That vision over the years has morphed into what is now a sprawling 2.1-million-square-
foot complex.

“We put a lot of work into this. I remember I was in that warehouse in 2018 and they were making this announcement, it was so exciting. We had the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus announcement on the same day. And, both have come to fruition,” Jackson said in an interview during the tour.

Met Park is made up of two eye-catching towers, Merlin and Jasper. Merlin – named after an Amazon executive’s family dog – sets the tone for a space that feels more communal than corporate.

Inside the multi-level glass structure of Amazon’s phase 1 campus, employees have access to various restaurants, coffee shops, a billiard room and a two-acre rooftop garden and greenspace. Company executives hope a park with a dog run and ground-floor retail shops will entice not only staff, but local residents to
the campus.

Addressing the crowd prior to the tour, Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy and Community Engagement Brian Huseman emphasized
the company’s dedication to the Arlington and Alexandria communities.

“We’ve partnered with more than 100 nonprofit and community organizations and many of those leaders are here today and we’re so thankful for your partnership,” Huseman announced. “Since we selected Arlington as HQ2 in 2018, we’ve committed more than 160 million dollars to local nonprofits, community organizations and schools across the region and more than one billion dollars in loans and grants.”

Along with a strong community presence, Amazon leaders also touted the building’s emphasis on sustainability.

According to a handout given to all attendees, HQ2 is tracking toward both towers becoming LEED Platinum certified. The informational pamphlet goes on to say how the use of fossil fuels was completely eliminated within the buildings for daily operations.

“HQ2 will run with zero operational carbon emissions and will be powered 100% by renewable energy,” according to the pamphlet.

Although Met Park is rooted in Arlington, Jackson says it has already made an impact on the Alexandria community and the future looks bright.

“We’ve just had great partnerships with the Arlington County Board. And I know going forward that will continue,” Jackson said.

-awill@alextimes.com

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