COMMENTARY

Rejected Austin proposals to attract Amazon’s HQ2

Some ideas to attract Amazon to build a second headquarters in Austin didn’t make the final cut.

Posted October 23rd, 2017

Contributed by Pablo GallagaWill Austin attract Amazon's $5 billion HQ2 project? Will bats be involved?

They say that there’s no such thing as a bad idea. But what if saying that in the first place was itself a bad idea?

Contributed by Richard WeissRichard Weiss, founder of Weiss Architecture, sketched a version of what an Amazon HQ2 cat tower might look like for Austin.

In the rush to meet the deadline to attract Amazon’s second headquarters and its 50,000 employees for the so-called “HQ2” project, groups from cities including Austin have put together bids to catch the Seattle corporate behemoth’s eye. Some are just sad (really, surf board, Long Beach?), others are a little bit more out-there, such as Frisco’s offer to build its town out around Amazon. 

While we don’t yet know the details of the bid the Austin Chamber of Commerce put together, we’ve uncovered from secret, possibly sketchy, maybe nonexistent sources that there were several rejected ideas that never made it into the proposal. These could be completely made up! (OK, there’s a 100 percent probability they are made up.) 

Regardless, in the spirit of keeping Austin weird(ish), here are some of those rejected ideas:

A kingdom for cat-loving Amazonians

An Internet-driven business that doesn’t appreciate cats, who have given us all so much joy online, is probably not going to succeed. One rejected proposal, from an unidentified local business owner, suggests building out a luxurious Amazon office building above a pre-existing local cat café in East Austin. Catazon HQ2 would feature a rooftop terrace catnip garden, dangling feathers across the exterior, catwalks to allow felines to access all levels of the complex and a self-cleaning multipurpose kitty litter box/parking lot with enough room for 5,000 vehicles and 10,000 cats, depending on their size and, um, output. The rooftop bar would be called “Pick o’ the Litter.” 

Movie stardom for Jeff Bezos

Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGESJeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, arrives for the third day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is not known as an attention hog, but who wouldn’t want a juicy role in a splashy action movie as a charismatic villain? If HQ2 comes to Austin, local filmmaker Robert Rodriguez will agree to cast the surprisingly buff Bezos in the role of “Kindle Bookman,” a scheming businessman trying to tear down Machete’s home and gentrify the neighborhood in a new film, “Machete Prime.” 

Come Vaughan down, Amazon!

Original photo: Jay Janner / AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Photo illustration: Omar L. GallagaYes, some in Austin would be willing to face swap the Auditorium Shores Stevie Ray Vaughan statue to attract Amazon HQ2 to Austin.

The city will replace the head of the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue with the head of Jeff Bezos, complete with new hat. There are two options, really: Lop off Stevie’s head and replace with the bronze visage of our new retail overlord gazing upon the newly named Amazonian Shores Park. Or one could simply go to town on Stevie with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch and reshape the legendary guitarist’s mug with that of Mr. Bezos. The city is also open to renaming Stevie's landmark album “Bezos Flood."

‘Alexa, join our music scene’

Elaine Thompson / ASSOCIATED PRESSFor those about to rock: David Limp, senior vice president of Devices and Services at Amazon, smiles as he displays a new Amazon Echo during an event announcing several new Amazon products by the company, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Seattle. It’s not hard to imagine the technology making its way into the amplifiers of all Austin musicians if the city attracts HQ2 to the city.

Every guitar and bass amplifier in Austin will be retrofitted with Alexa voice controls, whether the player wants it or not. No more of this pesky going to local guitar shops for a new tube or transistor or cord. Austin music fans, get used to hearing "Alexa order new strings" from the Continental Club stage.

You like books? We got bookshelves

Jay Janner / AMERICAN-STATESMANThis could all be yours, Amazon: Austin’s Central Library.

Sure, the city of Austin and invested millions and millions of dollars in the new Central Library, but who needs a new beautiful Central Library when you could turn it into the world’s best-looking Amazon warehouse? Under this proposal, this future jam downtown Austin would be converted into just another Amazon warehouse complete with extremely tired workers, searingly infinite shelves and lots and lots of bubble wrap. As you might imagine, it will not be open to the public. Ever. For any reason. But it will have absolutely incredible windows and stairs.

Austin Prime streaming

Amazon StudiosGael Garcia Bernal in “Mozart in the Jungle,” a show Austinites promise to watch if Amazon brings HQ2 to Austin. 

Texas film incentives may have been slashed over the years, but Austin is willing to roll out the red carpet for the next slate of Amazon original programming. "The Man in the High Castle goes to Texas!" A new season of “Transparent” that takes place entirely at The Domain and won’t at all be affected by bathroom bills from the Texas legislature! And what will obviously be the most important new program: "Austin Stories: 20 Years Later.” To supplement this idea, the city of Austin agrees to force 20 percent of Austin’s population to watch Golden Globe-winning “Mozart in the Jungle,” instead of just saying they plan to watch it someday.

Bats and drones, working together

Jessalyn Tamez / AMERICAN-STATESMANPeople watch as Mexican free-tailed bats exit the Congress Avenue bridge on an August 2016 night.  Could they be employed to help with Amazon’s drone-delivery program?

Here at the Austin American-Statesman, let’s just say we have the inside track when it comes to having accesss to millions of high-flying, go-getting creatures of the night. Yes, we may not technically own Austin’s free-tail bats, but we know where to find them and we have a plan to supplement Amazon’s adorable drone program with nature’s original drone army: lots and lots of sonar-wielding bats. There must be some way to get all these bats and all these drones on the same page to create the world’s greatest and fangiest delivery service. Build HQ2 on Lady Bird Lake and a practically unlimited supply of cheap bat labor will be at your disposal. Oh, and uh, please buy the American-Statesman while you’re at it.

 

Comments