20 Dec Philadelphia’s biggest commercial real estate stories of the year
When looking back at the top real estate stories from 2017, I listed HQ2 as No. 1 and for this year’s list, Amazon’s search for a second headquarters gets to that position again.
There’s a sense of relief the high-stakes gambit is over but there should be a self-analysis to determine what Philadelphia and the region learned from that exercise, what were our strengths and weaknesses and where do we go from here to stay competitive as companies consider locations to expand or move. At a recent Philadelphia Business Journal event, Anne Fadullon, director of Philadelphia’s Planning and Development Department, said when Amazon officials came to visit the city after submitting a response to its RFP, they revealed Philadelphia wasn’t even on the company’s radar. It sounded as if Amazon officials hardly knew the city existed.
While that may be an exaggeration, the sentiment is the same. If Philadelphia isn’t top-of-mind to Amazon officials conducting a nationwide search, how many other companies share a similar view of the city and region? It was good to hear that once they got here for a visit, Amazon officials were impressed but still, that disconnect is a problem.
The other takeaway came in the form of incentives. While Pennsylvania was willing to give $4.6 billion and Philadelphia offered to create a 20-year tax increment financing district valued at $1 billion, the role of those funds didn’t play as big of a part as expected in Amazon’s decision. Can those funds be redeployed in some fashion to help spur economic activity now? Why wait for the next Amazon to come along when fledgling businesses here and across the region could use some extra capital to get to the next level? Perhaps they will become an Amazon of our own making….
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