NYC Tops List of Amazon HQ2 Cities in a Study

The Competition Heats Up for Amazon's Second Headquarters

Could Amazon.com Inc. end up choosing the most expensive city in the U.S. for its second headquarters? Many pundits and prognosticators have called New York a long shot at best, but there’s a new study that ranks it No. 1, thanks mostly to its extensive mass-transit network.

New Yorkers’ access to subways, buses and regional trains was enough to overcome some of the country’s highest office and apartment rents in an analysis by Reis Inc. San Francisco, also notorious for its pricey housing, ranked second in the firm’s study, which examined the criteria Amazon set out in its request for proposals for the $5 billion HQ2 project. Cities were assigned scores comparing them with the national average in each category -- for example, what percentage of workers use mass transit. San Francisco ranked high for its large number of technology workers, and, along with New York, its museums and cultural offerings.

Reis cautions that Amazon’s choice could be based on factors not included in its analysis, like tax incentives, an applicant’s “creativeness,” or access to ski slopes or an ocean. “Or the decision could be based on whether or not the decision-maker owns a newspaper in the city,” the researchers wrote. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.

Here are the top 10 cities in the study and their composite scores. Metro areas are included unless otherwise indicated:

1. New York (city only): 4.8
2. San Francisco: 3.8
3. Washington (city only): 3.4
4. Seattle: 2.4
5. San Jose, California: 1.6
6. Suburban Virginia: 1.5
7. New Orleans: 1.3
8. Boston: 1.1
9. Rochester, New York: 1.1
10. Chicago: 1.0

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