According to a source, Amazon may have settled on a location for the mammoth office space the company began seeking in February: the Williamsburg waterfront.
Back in February, both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported that Amazon was seeking up between 250,000 and 500,000 sq. ft. of office space in New York City, greatly expanding its presence here beyond its Midtown outpost. Williamsburg was thrown around as a possibility, along with One World Trade and Brookfield Place.
This past November, Amazon announced it was leasing a 40,000 sq. ft. warehouse at 35 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg to serve as a photo studio to shoot images of products/"mecca" for "creative talent." But the source told Valleywag that the waterfront deal is "bigger and hush hush."
Cresa New York, the brokerage firm reportedly working with Amazon, said "no comment" on anything related to Amazon. Some of the other local realtors Valleywag contacted had heard the rumor, but seemed very skeptical, although one broker said Google had also been nosing around.
The logical assumption for that amount of space would be the former Domino Sugar factory. But Dave Lombino, director of special projects for Two Trees, the developer that purchased the waterfront property for a reported $185 million, said Amazon had no plans to become one of the occupants of the gleaming luxury complex. Lombino told Valleywag:
It makes perfect sense for companies like Amazon or Google to want to be in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, because there's a ton of creative talent in the neighborhood. Unfortunately they're going to have a hard time finding a significant amount of existing, functional space, because there's currently a huge shortage of commercial space.
But another source said difficult, "but not impossible" for Amazon to relocate to Williamsburg:
They got the money and space size that they could snap up one of the warehouses that JUST SIT THERE waiting for 30 year leases and someone to foot the bill on renovation. If that's the case, it'd be pretty quiet. Rough Trade is in the middle of a 30,000 retail renovation on N9 and NO ONE knows about it because they did the deal with a warehouse owner and are doing a complete renovation on their dime.
New York City's Economic Development Corporation, which has been very vocal about its desire to bring tech jobs to the city, expressed doubts about the veracity of the waterfront deal. The agency previously assisted Amazon with its photo studio lease, helping secure the company an ICIP abatement, according to a document provided by Good Jobs New York.
Whether or not the Williamsburg rumor is true, the possibility that "one of the largest expansions by a company in the city in years," would come from the tech sector is an intriguing thought experiment about what New York will look like should tech continue to displace finance as the monied class.
A couple weeks ago, Crain's reported that Facebook was negotiating to lease two floors of a 15-story office building in the East Village. According to Serkan Piantino, head of Facebook's New York engineering team, Frank Gehry will design the 100,000 sq. ft. space to "share many of the features of our headquarters."