Amazon freezes construction of second headquarters in Virginia amid job cuts

Amazon has halted construction of its second headquarters in Arlington, VA. The company tied the decision to “a reassessment of the office’s need to account for remote work,” although the move came months after the retailer laid off nearly 18,000 workers.

The online retailer confirmed the move to Bloomberg while insisting that it is still committed to a second headquarters (HQ2) in the Washington, DC suburbs, where it has committed to hiring 25,000 workers and spending $2.5 billion. Amazon has already hired more than 8,000 people as it completes the first phase of the new campus, including two towers in the 2.1-million-square-foot Metropolitan Park. The suspension affected the development of PenPlace, a larger site across the street where it plans to build three 22-story office towers, a 350-ft corporate conference center and a content within content. Additionally, the delay could have an impact on the area as local developers, construction workers and other businesses set plans to move based on Amazon’s timeline.

“We’re constantly reviewing space plans to make sure they fit our business needs and to create a great experience for employees,” said Amazon’s real estate chief John Schoettler. “And because Met Park has room to accommodate more than 14,000 employees, we decided to move the groundbreaking to PenPlace.”

The plans approved by Amazon’s county require it to meet construction and permitting goals by April 2025 unless it gets an official extension.

The company settled on offices in Arlington after its much-vaunted nationwide search for a second headquarters in 2017. Critics have scrutinized the move as a stunt to start a bidding war over who can offer the mega-corporation of the juiciest taxpayer-funded incentives. Amazon initially settled on a split between Queens, NY and Northern Virginia but withdrew from Queens after facing opposition from local politicians and officials, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who opposed the nearly $3 billion in financial kickbacks the company was set to receive. About 10 months after Amazon withdrew its New York plans, the company announced it would still build new offices in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on Manhattan’s West Side.

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