Pawtucket, Central Falls to bid for Amazon HQ2

A rendering of the proposed development of the Pawtucket-Central Falls Train District.

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Two Rhode Island cities are teaming up in the growing competition to be Amazon’s new home.

Pawtucket and Central Falls announced Thursday they would make a joint a bid for Amazon HQ2. The Seattle-based online retail giant announced plans for its second North American headquarters earlier this month.

In a news release, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said that they were offering an “ideal location” for Amazon HQ2: the Pawtucket Central Falls Train Station District straddling both cities. According to officials, the 160-acre site has more than 50 acres available for development and two million square feet of historic mill buildings, which could be more than doubled with new construction.

Amazon said it planned to spend $5 billion on its HQ2 and eventually hire up to 50,000 people to work at the facility. The company said it was looking for a “stable and business-friendly environment” in a metropolitan area with more than a million residents. Amazon’s other criteria include “urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent,” and “communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.”

Pawtucket and Central Falls say the planned transit hub for the train district, set to be completed in 2020, makes it an enticing spot for Amazon. Both cities also point to the district’s proximity to I-95, the Providence and Boston metro areas, and the region’s colleges and universities.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday that Amazon had requested a singled coordinated pitch from the state. She said she had spoken to both Grebien and Diossa about looping their pitch in with those from other communities.