Thursday, January 25, 2018

Orlando's failed bid for Amazon's HQ2 involved millions in tax incentives, free land and a new high school

Posted By and on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 5:32 PM

click to enlarge DOWNTOWN'S CREATIVE VILLAGE MAP
  • Downtown's Creative Village map
The Orlando Economic Partnership released details this afternoon from the region's failed bid for Amazon's secondary headquarters, HQ2, and it involves plenty of free land, tax incentives and even solar arrays in the shape of the company's logo.

The proposal was divided into four regions for Amazon to choose from, which included downtown Orlando's Creative Village, Tavistock’s Lake Nona and Sunbridge areas, NeoCity and the Tupperware campus. Or, if Amazon felt so inclined, a combination of all four.
Orlando really put it all out for Amazon, citing the region's talented workforce, available land, and commitment to digital infrastructure. At one point the proposal says, "We're lit." It's true.

Here's one of the videos from the proposal:

However, there were a couple of sections of the proposal that we thought were a little strange, like when it stated that we have a functioning and worthwhile public transportation system, and that Orlando has a very affordable, low cost of living, which it most certainly does not.

"Orlando’s low cost of living and pro-business climate is a benefit to your payroll and your employee’s paycheck. Orlandoans can achieve a higher quality of life on a smaller dime compared to other large metros."

Lol, sure.




Much of the incentive information has been redacted because "given the fact that a Florida community is still in the running to land Amazon’s second headquarters, the state of Florida economic incentive information has been redacted to protect the on-going competitive nature of the project," according to a statement the Orlando Economic Partnership.

Here are the highlights from the 142-page proposal:

DOWNTOWN:
The City of Orlando made a hard pitch to get HQ2 in Creative Village, calling it “100 percent city-owned and shovel ready.” In the proposal they offered nearly $400 million in tax incentives and waived fees, as well the 41-acre Creative Village site. The land value alone was estimated to be worth over $25 million.

Highlights from the Downtown Orlando plan:
  • Orange County was willing to offer Amazon a 100 percent tax abatement for 10 years, as long as the company created at least “1,000 new jobs at 200 percent of the average wage and a capital investment of over $50 million.” The proposal also highlighted the Urban Jobs Tax Credit, which allows companies to deduct at least $1,500 per qualified job as long as they’re located in the downtown area. It is estimated Amazon would've saved over $133 million in taxes.
  • The City of Orlando offered to cover 100 percent of transportation impact fees within Creative Village, to waive all planning fees and to take care of any fees for additional sewer capacity.
  • OUC offered to waive all fees for electric and water service for the first phase, valued at $500,000. They also offered a 100 percent renewable offset for five years, custom light fixtures, charging stations for electric cars, and to build a custom solar array in the shape of the Amazon logo.
  • The City of Orlando offered Amazon the Bob Carr Theater for adaptive reuse as a multi-purpose facility, event space, auditorium or other innovative demonstration space.
  • They offered to rename the recreational area going under I-4 as the “Amazon Under-I,” or whatever they wanted to call it.

    Hmmmm ... this deal reminds us of something.
click to enlarge The proposed recreational park
  • The proposed recreational park

TUPPERWARE:
The Orlando Economic Partnership also offered Amazon a site owned by Tupperware Brands Corporation within the 1,300-acre Tupperware development known as the Osceola Corporate Center (OCC) near Hunter’s Creek and the Osceola Parkway. The development currently includes nearly 2 million square feet of retail stores and almost 2,000 multi-family residential units. Large parts of the economic incentives for this proposal are redacted.
click to enlarge Tupperware
  • Tupperware
Highlights from the Tupperware plan:
  • Nearly $29.5 million in discounts for the 120-acre site owned by Tupperware Brands Corporation that was proposed for Amazon’s HQ2 project.
  • In property tax abatements, Orange County was willing to offer Amazon $55.9 million as long as the company created at least “1,000 new jobs at 200 percent of the average wage and a capital investment of over $50 million.”
  • Osceola County was willing to offer close to $116.7 million in tax abatements. Total property tax savings would be $172.6 million over 10 years for each building phase.
  • Osceola County promised to expedite permitting to include hiring of a dedicated permitting and inspection team for all phases of the project. Orange County also offered to expedite permitting by assigning a point person for HQ2. The value of this was to be determined.
  • Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA) offered a discounted tier rate on all usage above five megawatts.
  • Toho Water offered a deferred payment plan of water and wastewater impact fees by paying over a 10-year period, while Orange County was willing to discuss offsetting water connection or permitting fees.
  • Osceola County also offered to create a $2 million to help Amazon’s full-time employees relocate to the county. Conditions for the grant include that “employees’ wage must meet or exceed 200 percent of the county’s average wage.”
  • Tupperware was willing to transfer naming rights (including for private roads to a station) to Amazon valued at $350,000.
  • Orange County was also willing to “prioritize” transportation infrastructure improvements to help Amazon’s HQ2 project deadlines.
click to enlarge Lake Nona
  • Lake Nona
LAKE NONA/SUNBRIDGE
Tavistock’s Lake Nona and Sunridge areas were also considered as a major site contender. Rasheesh Thakkar, Senior Managing Director of Tavistock Group, actually penned the foreword to this section, calling the area “a thriving, diverse, neo-urban community.”

Highlights from the Lake Nona and Sunbridge plan:
  • Tavistock offered to fund and construct Amazon’s HQ2 of 500,000 to 8 million square feet.
  • Tavistock was willing to build a minimum of 1,000 single-family homes and 1,000 apartment units for Amazon employees to pursue to pursue master lease with Amazon.
  • Tavistock was willing to assist Amazonians with residential relocation services and offered up to rebate 25 percent of the routine real estate commissions for any residential purchase within Tavistock’s land holdings.
  • The Sunbridge Independent Services District offered approximately $100 million in HQ2 for public infrastructure like roads, utilities, parks, transit and parking. OUC also committed to build a nearby chilled water plant for Amazon HQ2
  • Tavistock was willing to donate 100 acres of land to Amazon’s HQ2 with a 500,000 square foot facility.
  • Osceola County School Board offered to build a new magnet high school with a “targeted focus on programs most beneficial to Amazon HQ2 project.” 
  • Lake Nona and Sunbridge offered a 100 percent tax abatement of the county general revenue mileage over 10 years on real and tangible personal property related to the project. However taxes on land and existing buildings in Sunbridge could not be abated.
  • Like the downtown offer, OUC also offered to waive all potential infrastructure fees for electric and water service, install and maintain vehicle charging stations for Amazon HQ2 project’s workforce, install unique lighting fixtures, and to build a custom-designed solar array in the shape of the Amazon logo or the letter A.
click to enlarge NeoCity
  • NeoCity
NEOCITY:
Situated near downtown Kissimmee and Lake Tohopekaliga, NeoCity was originally known the “Osceola Tech Farm,” The 500-acre research park is “in a highly connected, infrastructure-rich environment surrounded by an eco-friendly atmosphere of parks, trails and water features,” according to the proposal. NeoCity is also home to BRIDG – reportedly the world’s first industry-led nonprofit consortium for advanced manufacturing technologies.

Highlights from the NeoCity plan:
  • Osceola County is willing to offer up its own 100 acres of pad-ready land valued at $40 million in the NeoCity development free of cost to Amazon. “Amazon will have the ability to greatly influence the character of the remaining greenfield to meet its future space needs,” the proposal says.
  • Osceola County offered Amazon a 100 percent tax abatement worth $201.2 million over 10 years
  • Like the Tupperware proposal, KUA offered a discounted tier rate on all usage above five megawatts and Toho Water presented a deferred payment plan of water and wastewater impact fees by paying over a 10-year period. Osceola County again offered to expedite permitting by hiring a dedicated team for Amazon.
  • Osceola County also offered to create a $2 million to help Amazon’s full-time employees relocate to the county. Conditions for the grant include that “employees’ wage must meet or exceed 200 percent of the county’s average wage.”
View all of the proposals from Orlando Economic Partnership here.

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