WORCESTER – The City of Worcester continues to be “all in” when it comes to luring Amazon. City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. presented Worcester’s bid to the City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The proposal identified 98 acres along Route 20 for Amazon’s second headquarters [HQ2], where a Big Y Supermarket formerly sat.
The sixty page proposal highlights many of the great things that the City of Worcester has to offer. It speaks to the city’s to quality of life, and access to transportation, technology, innovation and sustainability.
The proposal focuses on Worcester’s passion for innovation stating the many colleges that Amazon could draw its employee pool from, namely Worcester Polytechnic Institute [WPI].
The key elements to the proposal were the incentives that the city was prepared to offer.
- Up to $500 million in Real Estate Tax Savings
- 100% Personal Property Tax Exemption for Over Twenty Years
- $1 Million in Job Creation Grant Funds
- Quick and Streamlined permitting process
“Worcester combines the warmth of a small town with the vibrancy of a thriving metropolis,” a joint letter from Mayor Joseph M. Petty and Augustus said. “A center of commerce, industry, healthcare and education, the city of Worcester is undergoing an economic resurgence and has repositioned itself in recent years to accommodate the needs of a dynamic economy.”
Although the proposal did not a get a full discussion during the council meeting, City Councilor At-Large Konstantina Lukes asked that it be put on the city’s website for the public to view.
The proposal was added to the site Wednesday morning and can be seen here.
District 3 City Councilor George Russell was disappointed at his lack of involvement in the proposal site selection and even stated that part of the site property was owned by a relative of his.
Proposed Site for Amazon Headquarters in Worcester
“I’m disappointed, quite frankly, this is in the heart of District 3,” Russell said during the meeting. “I was not consulted on any impacts there might be to this area and I’m disappointed very much that folks at least weren’t talked to about this.”
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Oct.18, Russell said, “I would have expected of any councilor to received a heads up for impact to the area and insight on the neighborhood.”
Russell said there are certain zoning issues that he has initially identified, wetland and conservation considerations and possible further development that may be needed outside the proposal to accommodate Amazon.
“It crosses zone lines and O’Hara Brook runs right through there,” Russell said. However, he added, “Am I against this coming? Of course not.”
Councilor At-Large Kate Toomey had a different viewpoint than her counterpart. “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for Worcester. That [proposal site] has been underutilized for way too long. It is an ideal location,” Toomey said.
When asked about the lack of involvement of the city council, Toomey agreed that the report being presented the way it was wasn’t ideal, but she approved of the proposal.
“I didn’t know what to say to people. However, the proposal needs to be accepted first. The devil will be in the detail and there will be plenty of opportunity for the people to speak,” Toomey said.
Toomey added that the area of the proposed site has all the amenities that are needed for a successful bid. She outlined the proximity to the Massachusetts Turnpike, the train, and the sewer work that will be done along Rte. 20. She also stated that the neighborhoods surrounding the headquarters will become prime residential real estate.
“People will be able to walk to work,” she said.
On Sept. 7, Amazon announced plans to open a second company headquarters in North America, Amazon HQ2. The project states that Amazon expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over the initial 15-17 years of the project. Proposals are due to Amazon on October 19.