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Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers

NASHVILLE — Forty years ago, Nashville and Birmingham, Ala., were peers. Two hundred miles apart, the cities anchored metropolitan areas of just under one million people each and had a similar number of jobs paying similar wages.Not anymore. The population of the Nashville area has roughly doubled, and young people have flocked there, drawn by high-paying jobs as much as its hip “Music City” reputation. Last month, the city won an important consolation prize in the competition for Amazon’s second headquarters: an operations center that will eventually employ 5,000 people at salaries averaging $150,000 a year.Birmingham, by comparison, has steadily lost population, and while its suburbs have…

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High-Tech Degrees and the Price of an Avocado: The Data New York Gave to Amazon

An avocado at Whole Foods costs $1.25. Columbia University handed out 724 graduate degrees in computer science over the past three years. And 10 potential land parcels in Long Island City are zoned M1-4, for light manufacturing. New York provided all of these data points, and thousands more, to Amazon as part of its successful bid to woo the tech giant to town.On Monday, New York City posted online the 253-page proposal it submitted, along with New York State, to Amazon in March. The city quickly took the file down, saying it should have checked with its partners before posting it, because the document included proprietary information.…

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The Look of Amazon’s HQ2 Winners, Before Amazon

Crystal City in Arlington, Va.CreditHector Emanuel for The New York TimesLong Island City in QueensCreditChristopher Lee for The New York TimesInstead of one new home, Amazon chose two. Two places, with waterfront views and organic shops and abandoned buildings, that will someday house tens of thousands of high-tech workers.We spent much of this week in those two places, Crystal City in Arlington, Va., and Long Island City in Queens, to capture life there as Amazon named them the winners of a 14-month-long beauty contest for its new headquarters.Together, the two areas — both are neighborhoods, not actually cities — could help make Amazon one of the largest…

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Amazon’s HQ2 in Virginia Leaves a Real Estate Firm Poised to Cash In

Two years ago, Matt Kelly couldn’t have known that a failed merger involving his real estate firm would propel him toward a central role in Amazon’s expansion plans.In May 2016, Mr. Kelly and his firm, then known as the JBG Companies, had an agreement to merge with a large real estate investment trust based in New York. But shareholders of the New York fund balked, and the deal collapsed.A few months later, JBG, based in Chevy Chase, Md., had a new partner. In a deal valued at $8.4 billion, JBG merged with a Washington unit spun off from the real estate behemoth Vornado Realty Trust.The new company,…

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Dominating Retail? Yes. Reviving a City? No Thanks.

ImageA demonstration in front of Amazon in Seattle in April. Protesters called for a tax on the city’s largest companies to help pay for homeless services. The tax passed, but Amazon fought the measure, and the Seattle City Council repealed it. CreditLindsey Wasson/ReutersAmazon could have transformed a city. It could have created 50,000 high-paying jobs in a place with higher-than-average unemployment. It could have become the largest employer in a midsize city, or the central player in a new regional tech hub. But the company that has radically transformed the retail industry has never shown much appetite for remolding cities. And by announcing Tuesday that it would…

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Critic’s Notebook: Amazon’s HQ2 Will Benefit From New York City. But What Does New York Get?

The innovation myth used to involve the back of a suburban garage or an office park in Silicon Valley. The tech industry was incubated not on the mean streets of the big city, but in sleepy hamlets like Murray Hill, N.J., and Mountain View, Calif.So with Amazon splitting HQ2, its second headquarters, between Crystal City, a part of Arlington, Va., and Long Island City, in Queens, what are we to make of tech’s steady migration to marquee cities?Amazon is hardly alone, after all. Google and Facebook already have headquarters here (established, not incidentally, without state subsidies). Google intends to double its work force in the city to…

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Amazon’s New Neighbor: The Nation’s Largest Housing Project

Until recently, the most important thing to know about Amazon for residents of the Queensbridge Houses, the country’s largest public housing project, was that any packages left in a lobby would likely be stolen.But Amazon will soon be a far larger presence in their New York City neighborhood.The company owned by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, will announce on Tuesday that it will establish a major headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, where Queensbridge’s 26 aging buildings are home to a mostly black and Hispanic population with a median household income of $15,843, well below the federal poverty line for a family of four.Here, where livings…

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Urban Planning Guru Says Driverless Cars Won’t Fix Congestion

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Peter Calthorpe thinks Silicon Valley has it all wrong. He rejects the ideas of tech industry visionaries who say personal autonomous vehicles will soon be the solution to urban problems like traffic congestion.Mr. Calthorpe is a Berkeley-based urban planner who is one of the creators of New Urbanism, which promotes mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods. His designs emphasize the proximity of housing, shopping and public space.He is not opposed to autonomous vehicles. Mr. Calthorpe’s quarrel is with the idea that the widespread adoption of personally owned self-driving cars will solve transportation problems. In fact, he worries it will lead to more urban congestion and suburban…

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Among Amazon HQ2 Watchers, Northern Virginia Checks the Most Boxes

SEATTLE — Amazon won’t say a word about where it plans to put its much-hyped second headquarters. Officials in the 20 cities and regions named as finalists say that they don’t know anything — and that even if they did, they wouldn’t share it publicly.But that hasn’t stopped investors, economic officials and developers from trying to reverse engineer the HQ2 search, to understand what a company seen as embodying the future wants and needs, and what local governments should do to be part of that future.The growing consensus is that the place that checks the most boxes is Northern Virginia. In online betting forums, it has the…

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The Mystery of Amazon HQ2 Has Finalists Seeing Clues Everywhere

Over Labor Day weekend, a club promoter who goes by the name Purple posted a photo on Instagram from the LIV nightclub in Miami. In front of a wall graffitied with names and a single “Life Is Beautiful” sticker, Purple’s arm was casually draped over the shoulders of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon chief executive, whose pants matched the host’s name. “It’s not everyday you get to hang with the richest guy in the world,” Purple wrote on Instagram. “What a pleasure.”But when The Miami Herald covered the celebrity spotting, its cares turned toward the practical: “Could this be good news for Miami’s HQ2 bid?”Friday marks one year…

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