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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 The tax passed, but Amazon fought the measure, and the Seattle City Council repealed it.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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San Francisco Officials to Tech Workers: Buy Your Lunch

SAN FRANCISCO — The corporate campuses of the Bay Area’s technology companies have become independent fiefs with dry cleaning, gyms, doctors, shuttle buses and bountiful free meals, made by the best chefs poached from the region’s famous restaurants. Now, local officials are knocking at the gates.And they are coming for the food.Two San Francisco supervisors introduced an ordinance last week that would forbid employee cafeterias in new corporate construction. It is not clear whether the measure will pass, but it is a direct attack on one of the modern tech industry’s most entrenched traditions.The ordinance, which seeks to force tech workers out of their subsidized cafeterias and…

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One Goal of Amazon’s HQ2: Learn the Lessons of Seattle

Amazon’s search for a second headquarters has been a pageant of finalist cities doing everything they can to woo the company and the good jobs and huge construction projects it would bring. The most controversial part of the process has been the big tax incentives that some state and local governments have offered Amazon, seen by critics as ineffective corporate giveaways.Photo Home prices in Seattle are growing faster than those in any other large city. Credit Kyle Johnson for The New York Times Amazon wrapped up its visits in mid-April to all 20 finalist locations for its HQ2, as Amazon calls its second headquarters. The company is…

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Square Feet: Building a Connected City From the Ground Up

General Electric will use Union Point as a laboratory for testing new products and as a showroom for working systems. Eric Gebhardt, the strategic technology officer at GE Power, said the community’s energy plan will include micro grid technology, renewable generation and power storage. The company will also install “intelligent” lighting — streetlights with sensors that can track sound, light and other conditions. The data can be used to monitor traffic, help drivers find parking spaces and alert law enforcement if a gun is fired.G.E. has piloted some of its smart products in existing cities, but Union Point is an unusual opportunity because most of the infrastructure…

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