By Mary Casillas Salas and Lee Chesnut
As hundreds of municipal and economic development officials throughout North America assure themselves that "Amazon would be crazy not to locate here," a review of the actual criteria presented by the Amazon HQ2 RFP demonstrates a visionary and achievable objective by this global corporation that was described as crazy when founder Jeff Bezos launched his online book store. We don't think it's crazy to be confident that Amazon HQ2 will be in Chula Vista, and here's why.
The Chula Vista location proposed for Amazon's second headquarters has been planned for more than 10 years. Amazon HQ2 would be located in the Office District at Millenia - our award-winning, master-planned development community with five districts that form this modern, urban location.
The City of Chula Vista has proven to be a strong and capable partner that can deliver multi-billion development projects. For Amazon HQ2, the City has an accomplished partner, Chesnut Properties, who has designed a visionary office park development that embodies our shared values of sustainability, innovation, passion, intelligence and creativity. Together with Chesnut Properties, the City of Chula Vista's proposal actually exceeds Amazon's stated requirements. We are offering Amazon an opportunity to grow into more than 8 million square feet with delivery of Phase I (500,000 to 1 million square feet) by the 2019 deadline and additional phases by 2020.
As Amazon HQ2 is developed, the Millenia community around the headquarters campus will grow with HQ2, providing employees an opportunity to live within walking or biking distance of their offices and other recreational amenities.
On the specific and unique future benefits that Chula Vista can deliver to Amazon, the checklist below is incomparable to any other North America location:
- The opportunity to partner with the City of Chula Vista to co-create California's next university.
- A stunning Gensler-designed office campus featuring the "Amazon hub" amphitheater.
- Eight-million square feet of LEED platinum certified office space - a half-million delivered by 2019.
- An Autonomous Vehicle (AV) shuttle that will serve all of Millenia as part of the current city-approved AV testing program.
- Access to two international airports located 20 minutes from HQ2 facilitating access to the world.
- A private airport that can land a C-130 located 6 miles from HQ2.
- An educated, skilled and talented workforce. The San Diego region ranks second for growth rate of degree-holding millennials and concentration of workforce in science and engineering jobs. San Diego colleges and universities graduate more than 15,000 STEM students every year.
- $400 million in local incentives which includes 85 acres of Innovation District property near Otay Lake.
- Binational location in the CaliBaja region, population 6 million.
- State of California incentives.
- San Diego region's unparalleled quality of life, Mediterranean climate, and access to talent.
In an homage to the bookseller that is now leading in Internet commerce, services, sustainable energy, robotics, logistics, AI and so much more, we created a beautiful book that showcases Chula Vista's decades of planning, development and accomplishments in environmental stewardship, sustainability, tech, IoT, cultural awareness, STEAM education and community leadership. On October 17, the Chula Vista City Council unanimously voted to approve a $400 million incentive package as part of our Amazon proposal.
Working with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, and with Chesnut Properties, our Millenia site was included in the San Diego MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) proposal, along with opportunities for Amazon to support other uses in Otay Mesa, downtown San Diego and Mission Valley.
Pitching Amazon has given Chula Vista the opportunity to promote our incredible assets: shovel-ready developable land, 375 acres for a university, a skilled workforce, vibrant communities, quality schools, and more.
We aren't going to say that Amazon would be crazy not to choose Chula Vista and the San Diego region, just as we never thought Bezos was crazy to grow online services from a virtual book store. We simply know that regardless of how the Amazon HQ2 story ends, our region has demonstrated that by sharing Amazon's spirit of pioneering, innovation and care for future generations we will see continued success. And that's an exciting and worthwhile adventure in anybody's book!
Mary Casillas Salas is Mayor of Chula Vista. Lee Chesnut is Principle and Founder of Chesnut Properties.