Amazon HQ2 may spark hotel, restaurant, retail surge

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Print this page by M.J. McAteer
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Victor Hoskins expects HQ2 to generate more than 100,000
hotel room bookings annually. Photo by Stephen Gosling

In its hometown of Seattle, Amazon employs 49,000 people, and its presence is estimated to be directly responsible for the booking of 1,000 hotel rooms a night in that Washington state city — or more than 300,000 bookings annually.

Across the country and across the Potomac River from the other Washington, where Amazon is opening its East Coast HQ2 campus, the local hospitality industry is already doing the math and liking it. If by 2030, Amazon has 25,000 employees in Northern Virginia as promised (and a whopping 38,000 by 2034), that should translate into the booking of 500 rooms a night, says Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association.

Furthermore, the Amazon campus at National Landing, which is the new moniker for the area of Crystal City, Pentagon City in Arlington and parts of Alexandria that Amazon will occupy, is expected to meet only about 30% of on-site restaurant demand. That means the corporate behemoth’s well-heeled workers will be frequently venturing out to eat.

These are happy predictions indeed for an area of NoVa that took a hard hit when the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission shuttered many sites, leaving lots of empty space behind.

Although Amazon will have just 400 employees in place at HQ2 by the end of this year and only about 1,500 by the end of 2020, Terry is already seeing an uptick in interest and demand. “I am optimistic about the impact on the market building through the next 24 months,” he says, adding that he expects some new hotel development and the expansion and refurbishment of existing properties.

Terry also expects that Amazon will be sending out requests for proposals to local hotels as it seeks to arrange accommodations for people traveling to the area for interviews and training. Vendors, obviously, will need hotel rooms, too.

Arlington Economic Development Director Victor L. Hoskins was heavily involved with the wooing and winning of Amazon. “It is absolutely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my career,” he says. Effective Aug. 5, Hoskins will become the head of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA). 

Hoskins estimates “in the conservative range” that Amazon will drive 100,000 to 125,000 hotel room bookings annually. “I fully expect that existing hotels and new ones will be including more millennial products,” he says, citing properties such as The Moxy in the District, a boutique hotel that advertises “funk-inspired furniture” and “innovative amenities” appealing to that  demographic.

Already, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Bowlero bowling alley and Mothersauce Partners’  The Freshman restaurant are planning to locate in National Landing, and Hoskins is looking for a “major” surge of restaurants and retailers in the next couple of years.

Amazon, he predicts, is going to be a lot more than just a campus. He thinks it will become a neighborhood in and of itself – and about that, he couldn’t be more pleased.

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