Kyle, Buda offer hundreds of acres in Austin area’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2

Posted October 31st, 2017

When the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce submitted its bid for Amazon’s second headquarters on Oct. 18, chamber spokesman Mike Berman said it did so on on the behalf of the entire metro area.

The chamber has declined to release the bid application to the media, but two of the metro area’s cities, Kyle and Buda, have revealed some details regarding land sites and incentives that were included in the bid. The details were first reported by the Hays Free Press. 

The cities’ offers include a 100-acre tract in Kyle along with $242 million in incentives, as well as roughly 400 acres in the Buda area. Both Kyle and Buda are south of Austin, in Hays County. 

"If the project were to locate within the Austin metro area, there would be a possible impact for all communities and counties," said Ann Miller, executive director at the Buda Economic Development Corp. "That's why (Austin-area cities) are all working as partners." 

About 40 to 50 land sites were submitted through the Austin area’s bid, Berman said. Various cities submitted one or multiple land locations that they sent to Austin’s chamber, along with other information such as financial incentives, which the chamber packaged into the regional bid.

The city of Kyle offered a 100-acre tract along its Plum Creek mixed-use development, according to Kyle spokeswoman Kim Hilsenbeck. The Plum Creek development includes residential, retail and commercial space.

The city also offered $242 million in financial incentives over a 15-year period, Hilsenbeck said, though she would not provide further detail.

“The 100 acres would be just for Amazon,” Hilsenbeck said. “There’s a few thousand acres in total to be developed in Plum Creek.”

Amazon is looking for a large piece of land. The company said its second headquarters, which it’s calling “HQ2,” will initially be more than 500,000 square feet but build out to up to 8 million square feet, equal to its Seattle headquarters. The company said it will hire as many as 50,000 employees in jobs averaging more than $100,000 in salary. 

The city of Buda submitted multiple potential sites to the Austin chamber that total roughly 400 acres, according to Miller.

Some of the tracts are located in the Sunfield Municipal Utility District, while others are north of the city in privately-owned land that landowners are willing to sell, Miller said. The tracts run along the city’s Main Street and Interstate 35. 

"There is potential that Buda could help with public transportation, or property sales tax rebates. It depends on what property (Amazon) chooses," Miller said. "We provided information about incentives, but we did not get into the nitty gritty because (the HQ2 site selection) is in process."

Miller did not provide more details regarding incentives or other information Buda included in its package. 

city of Buda Land tracts submitted by the city of Buda for Amazon’s HQ2

Austin-area developers and site location experts have said some other regional cities such as Round Rock and San Marcos could make sense for HQ2’s location. Economic development officials at both cities declined to comment on their offers. 

In Austin’s city limits, site location experts have said less land options, along with concern about added gridlock, could hinder the city’s bid.

But the area has also been named as a contender among industry analysts because of important factors such as the expansive tech talent here, prominent educational institutions, friendly business environment and relatively low cost of living, among other factors. 

A memo from Austin officials made public on Oct. 25 said the city did not include any local incentives offer in their proposal. Officials said a public progress that includes multiple city council meetings and a public response period have to first happen before the city offers local incentives.  Austin has become increasingly conservative regarding its incentives program, which it has been reviewing.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office has previously said it would offer an equal financial incentive package for any Texas city bidding for the Amazon project. If Amazon picks a city in Texas, it's expected the majority of any financial incentives it would receive would come from the state.

Amazon said it will pick a city with more than 1 million residents in a stable business environment.

The company also listed several factors critical to its decision, including incentives, a close proximity to an international airport, major highways and roads, a strong university system, access to mass transit and a significant tech culture.

Amazon received 238 proposals from cities across North America. Private negotiations are expected to happen throughout the following months as the company zeroes in on a location, which it said will be announced sometime in 2018.