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The newest frontrunner for Amazon's HQ2 is a pricey DC suburb. Here's what to know about Crystal City

Money logo Money 11/6/2018 Shaina Mishkin
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Could the search for Amazon’s much-hyped HQ2 finally be coming to a close? The Seattle-based company has been on the hunt for a new home — or homes — for more than a year. If a new report is correct, it may have found one in Crystal City, Va.

As far as word from Amazon goes, there have been few official hints since the company announced their 20-city short list in January. But that hasn’t stopped the speculation as the company approaches its year-end deadline.

On Saturday, the east Arlington neighborhood was tipped as Amazon’s choice, according to a story in the Washington Post that cited anonymous sources. And, while Crystal City might not seem like a glamorous choice next to competitors like New York and Dallas, there’s a lot about the neighborhood that makes it a compelling pick.

Here’s what you should know:

It’s close to Washington, D.C.

It’s no secret that Washington, D.C., is one of Jeff Bezos’ favorite cities. The Amazon CEO bought the city’s former Textile Museum in 2016 and has been converting it into the city’s biggest home. And that’s just his most recent investment: Bezos made headlines when he bought The Washington Post in 2013.

Of course, Bezos could love the city and still decide to plant the headquarters somewhere else. But, should the company choose the Washington, D.C. area for HQ2, Crystal City makes logistical sense.

With the Ronald Regan Washington National Airport two miles to the east, the heart of Washington, D.C., five miles to the north, and a few stops on Washington’s Metro linking all three, Crystal City is in the right geographic spot for the Seattle-based company.

a view of a city: Skyline of Crystal City, Virginia

Skyline of Crystal City, Virginia
© Courtesy of Crystal City BID

It’s revitalizing

Sixty years ago, Crystal City did not seem like the kind of place a leading e-commerce giant would pick for its global headquarters.

Throughout the mid-1900s, the neighborhood was mostly vacant lots, brickyards and motels, according to the Arlington, Virginia website. The area grew through 1960s, notably after the U.S. Patent Office and the Institute of Defense Analysis set up shop in the neighborhood.

Today, the neighborhood, although a part of Arlington, has its own distinct downtown area. The walkable Crystal Drive is dotted with businesses, restaurants and public art, while public/private partnerships are bringing investment in parks and open space.

It’ll cost you

Home prices in Crystal City might be more affordable than they are in Seattle, but that’s not saying much. The median home value in the 22202 area, a zip code Crystal City shares with neighboring Pentagon City, Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge, is $625,800, according to Zillow — nearly three times the U.S. median.

That said, housing is set to expand in the area. The neighborhood had 1,200 housing units on the way, according to UrbanTurf.

Should Amazon choose Crystal City for HQ2, the company’s presence will impact the local housing market, says realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale.

“If the location is in close proximity to a metro stop, it could help distribute growth throughout the D.C. area and mitigate HQ2’s impact on traffic and road conditions,” Hale writes. “But the arrival of the new headquarters would almost certainly mean that home prices would spike in Northern Virginia.”

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