An aerial shot of American Airlines Center surrounded by condominiums along I-35E in Dallas, Thursday, June 30, 2016. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News)
All the details of Victory Park's bid to bring Amazon HQ2 to Dallas
Several property owners around American Airlines Center in Victory Park have put together a site proposal for Amazon HQ2. Show Full Story
Real estate companies, which on most days are competing with each other for big commercial building projects, have come together over the past couple of weeks to create a site plan for Amazon.
The group led by Ross Perot Jr.'s Hillwood Urban and Hunt Realty Investments includes Hines, Karns, Cousins, Provident Realty Advisors and Estein USA.
Seeing Amazon's expansion in downtown Seattle and how it was outgrowing the region, Hillwood proposed to the tech and e-commerce giant last summer that it should put an office building in Dallas.
Hillwood showed Amazon an architect's drawing of a tower it would build in Victory Park in June, said Ken Reese, executive vice president at Hillwood. He believes Amazon had plans in motion back then for an expansion, but "everyone was surprised" that it was an HQ2, he said.
Seattle-based Amazon unleashed a flurry of activity across major U.S. markets when it said on Sept. 7 that it's looking for a second headquarters somewhere in the U.S. or Canada in a city with at least 1 million residents.
"It's impressive the speed at which they are moving," Reese said in an interview Wednesday. "We have the first building already designed for them."
Hillwood has built 17 facilities totaling 14 million square feet for Amazon in eight states, including fulfillment centers in Texas.
Perot said the proposal is similar to Amazon's Seattle campus and he believes it "possesses all of the amenities and requirements Amazon is seeking."
"It's in the heart of an urban and vibrant city environment, adjacent to mass transit and key transportation infrastructure," Perot said in a statement. "And we can offer plenty of office development sites for them to execute their vision for a second North American headquarters."
This time, many believe that the 2.5-mile radius around the center of downtown Dallas has an advantage over the suburbs.
Visiting Amazon's Seattle offices a number of times, Reese said the demographic of the typical employee is similar to residents in Uptown and downtown Dallas. "This is a younger demographic versus what drove Toyota to Plano was more about home prices and school districts," Reese said.
"This area of town is made to order," said Walt Zartman, senior vice president at Hillwood, adding the pitch includes multiple actual photos of amenities such as urban parks, trails and street scenes versus the drawings of similar settings that other developers will present.
"It's all here. There's no need to imagine it," Zartman said.
The Victory Park-proposed site located on the northwestern edge of downtown covers 36 acres where several buildings can be built in an area around the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Woodall Rodgers Freeway and I-35. Included is the historic Brewery building in the West End District and stretches through Victory Park to empty parcels north of the American Airlines Center.
The first building with the 500,000 square feet that Amazon said it needs for Phase 1 will be built next to the existing Victory Park DART transit station, Reese said. DART has a proposal to add another stop at the Perot Museum in 2024, he said.
The proposed buildings include one north of Woodall Rodgers Freeway right across from the El Fenix restaurant. The historic El Fenix restaurant would stay, but parking lot around it is part of the new building plan.
The cover of a multi-property owner proposal for Amazon HQ2 from a group led by Hillwood Urban and Hunt Realty Investments. (Hillwood Urban/Hillwood Urban)
The Northend apartments built in the 1990s next to the Perot Museum would be leveled to build a high-rise office building. About a dozen buildings in all are part of the plan to reach the 8 million square feet that Amazon said it needs for its second headquarters, Reese said.
Dallas' real estate community is rallying hard for Amazon because "it's would be uplifting across the market," said Todd Watson, senior vice president of Hunt Realty Investments. "In the end, Amazon is going to pick a place where their employees want to live."
"We are very supportive of the efforts to bring Amazon to Dallas and are working hard with others to help them select our city," said Ray Hunt, executive chairman of Hunt Consolidated.
Whether Amazon wants an infill urban area or a big empty space where it can build a corporate campus, Reese said, "This area has all the choices."