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Poor public transit access could hurt Denver’s bid for Amazon HQ2

Author: Adam McCoy - November 6, 2017 - Updated: November 6, 2017

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Amazon announced Sept. 7 it has opened the search for a second headquarters, promising to spend more than $5 billion on the opening. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Denver is considered by many to be among the frontrunners to win the bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, or as the kids call it HQ2.

Amazon is after all weighing a city’s or region’s proximity to an international airport (within a 45 minute-drive), strong local and regional talent and recreational opportunities not unlike those Seattle offers (i.e. mountains) in the HQ2 decision process. Denver’s got ‘em. Even the New York Times picked the Mile High City to ultimately woo Amazon.

But, the retail giant is also considering public transportation, and according to one study, Denver’s poor access to transit could hurt its odds.

Real estate research company Reis Inc., based in New York City, conducted a recent survey of 25 cities which showed Denver behind more than a dozen cities in the bid for Amazon’s second HQ, largely due to poor mass-transit access. NYC, San Francisco and Washington D.C. topped the rankings, with Denver coming in at 15.

Reis analyzed the 25 cities across eight equally-weighted criteria Amazon outlined in its request for proposals.

Amazon announced it would start accepting proposals for a location for its second headquarters in September, promising to invest more than $5 billion for construction and operation of HQ2 and create 50,000 jobs. With the construction and operation of an Amazon HQ2, the surrounding community should expect to grow tens of thousands of additional jobs, and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment, Amazon said.

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation’s proposal — submitted last month and including as many as eight metro-area locations for HQ2 —  is said to highlight the region’s educated workforce and quality of life over financial incentives.

Reis’s survey noted Amazon could decide on a location for HQ2 based on factors other than those considered in their research.

“These measures include the tax incentives granted by the city/state, the ‘creativeness’ of the location, other immeasurable qualitative features and/or an underlying preference on the part of the decision makers for such things as access to skiing, a lake, river or ocean,” the study said.

Amazon said it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts territories across the country.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.