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Philly Amazon HQ2 bid dangled office space in 30th Street Station, bid document shows

Philadelphia released a heavily redacted response to requests for public records concerning its bid for Amazon's second headquarters. It does offer some details about available office space.

City officials said One Drexel Plaza, seen here in an artist’s rendering, could accommodate some of Amazon’s immediate office needs if it chooses Philadelphia for its planned second headquarters.
City officials said One Drexel Plaza, seen here in an artist’s rendering, could accommodate some of Amazon’s immediate office needs if it chooses Philadelphia for its planned second headquarters.Read moreSHOP ARCHITECTS PC / WEST 8

Philadelphia officials seeking to lure Amazon's planned second headquarters to the city touted the immediate availability of ample office space in desirable locations — including inside 30th Street Station itself.

In a heavily redacted response Wednesday to requests for public records concerning Philadelphia's October bid to Amazon, Mayor Kenney's office vowed that it could satisfy the e-commerce giant's need for 500,000 square feet of space in 2019 at any of the three development sites it has portrayed in the past as compelling locations for the company.

Two of these sites are in University City. The third is the Navy Yard on the Delaware River waterfront in South Philadelphia.

The bid document also notes the availability of 280,000 square feet of offices within the 30th Street Station building, with millions of feet of additional buildable space on vacant and underused properties around the station.

The details make up part of the city's official response to Inc.'s request for proposals from cities and regions hoping to accommodate the Seattle-born company's second corporate campus, which it has been referring to as HQ2. Philadelphia was among 238 entrants that Amazon said had responded by its Oct. 19 deadline for bids.

More than a third of the 108-page document released by the mayor's office Wednesday is blank. Much of the unredacted material consists of background information to support the city's bid, including housing prices, descriptions of area universities, and educational attainment data.

Assistant city solicitor Robert Kieffer wrote in an accompanying letter that details were redacted when exempt from disclosure for such reasons as the protection of trade secrets or strategies to "achieve the successful adoption of a budget, legislative proposal, or regulation."

The document does, however, shed some light on how the city would accommodate the growing tech and retail behemoth within the University City and Navy Yard sites.  Amazon has said it could eventually require 8 million square feet of office space at its planned second headquarters, which will employ some 50,000 people.

At the planned Schuylkill Yards development in University City near 30th Street Station, Amazon's immediate need for 500,000 square feet of space would be satisfied in the Cira Centre office building and the former Bulletin newspaper building, which is being redeveloped into what developer Brandywine Realty Trust has named One Drexel Plaza.

Current zoning at the development site can accommodate a total of 8.6 million square feet, but that could grow to 17.4 million feet if land-use changes recommended by city planning officials are adopted.

A few blocks to the east at the development site known as uCity Square, Amazon's initial space needs could be met within existing office buildings, which the document did not identify. The site's current zoning would permit 8.4 million square feet of development, though that could reach 11.9 million feet if planning recommendations are followed.

Around 30th Street Station, sites with redevelopment potential include a surface parking lot north of the station and the current site of the station's nine-story parking garage, as well as a tract of land at the northeast corner of 30th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Together, those three sites could permit up to about 4.2 million square feet of development, according to calculations based on figures in the document.

Amtrak did not immediately respond to an email after business hours Wednesday asking about the inclusion of its properties in the bid. In October, the transportation agency postponed its search for a developer to remake the area around 30th Street Station as city officials prepared their Amazon bid.

Meanwhile, at the Navy Yard, either of two historic buildings totaling 1.3 million square feet of space could meet Amazon's immediate needs, according to the document. Under the former military base's current zoning, 10 million square feet of additional development would be permitted.

UPDATE: Philly one of 20 finalists for Amazon HQ2