With a welcome from Alexandria City High School’s Marching Titans and a ribbon cutting by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, local politicians, and company officials, Amazon opened its second headquarters on Thursday in Arlington.
“The doors are open and by next fall, I understand that all of HQ2 employees will be moved in, and that’s going to mean so much not just for Amazon but for the surrounding businesses,” Youngkin said at the grand opening ceremony.
“I don’t want to create any tension intra-company. But I wonder if this should be renamed HQ1,” he joked.
Amazon said 8,000 employees are assigned to HQ2. Overall, the company expects to add 25,000 new jobs at the headquarters and in the surrounding area by 2030.
Youngkin and other speakers at the event, including Christian Dorsey, chair of the Arlington County Board, and Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy and community engagement, emphasized the company’s commitment to the local community and the region, and its focus on sustainability.
“This project has also spurred a number of other investments, including a revamped urban park with a distinctive water feature, thousands of new housing units, a lot of street-activating innovative retail, and I’m so excited about the public investments in higher education to support the talent pipeline,” Dorsey said. “I know my elected official colleagues from Alexandria love that billion-dollar Innovation Center for Virginia Tech, just south here of Arlington, as well as the investments for George Mason University.”
Met Park includes 2.1 million square feet of office space in two towers that are each 22 floors. In a tour of one of the two buildings on Thursday, Youngkin, the media, and other guests checked out the sleek building’s creative spaces and amenities geared toward employee interaction.
The design shows off small touches like signs reminiscent of Amazon’s famed cardboard boxes.
The Merlin tower includes a game room with pool tables and foosball; a craft room with paint supplies; multiple cafés, including one named NOVA Grille; and several options for seating that employees can use for meetings and gatherings.
Known for being a dog-friendly employer, one massive wall features employees’ dogs, and the Youngkins stopped to pet one four-legged friend in the game room. “I have one question,” Youngkin said during his remarks. “Do you have to be an employee of Amazon in order to put your dog on the dog wall? Because the first lady and I have four.”
Met Park features outdoor spaces that were renovated for the community but also includes a 2.5-acre public park with 160 native trees and plants, public art installations by local artists, a playground, and a dog run. The tower has its own outdoor spaces on eight terraces. The terrace on the 15th floor features an urban farm, where fresh produce is being grown to provide fresh produce to families in need.
There are 14 new retail spaces either open or set to open at HQ2. In the building of Met Park, 88 percent of the contracts were awarded to area businesses, and local employees made up 97 percent of the 7,800 craftworkers who have taken part in the project.
Feature image by Mike Ramm
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