A Sign of Amazon Interest in Houston’s ‘East River’

The tallest of the 5 vacant structures remaining in the 136-acre former KBR campus fronting Buffalo Bayou east of Downtown that new owner Midway has dubbed East River has been sporting a new night-time look as of this week. The lights in the photo above, taken last night by a reader, spell out the NASDAQ ticker symbol of Amazon — which has announced a nationwide search for a second headquarters campus.

Previously, the lights in the 12-story office building at 4100 Clinton Dr. in the Fifth Ward had been tuned to HTX:


Photos: Swamplot inbox (AMZN); Marc Longoria (HTX)

Hey Lookie Here!

30 Comment

  • I think this or the Northwest Mall would be perfect locations for AmazonAdoil

  • I don’t see an appeal for an ‘etail giant to relo here…I see a proclamation that Superfund sites in HTX are AMaZiNg!

  • On one hand, this outright pandering is a good sign of capitalism hustle in its glory.
    On the other, this outright pandering to the Amazonian overlords is just embarrassing.

  • I think Houston has a huge advantage in location and a big factor in that is the completion of I-69, (however long that may take) Amazon is in it for the long haul though, which means it’s a factor. Once I-69 & I-49 North towards KC is completed, I-35 becomes a regional highway system serving SA, Austin, Waco, DFW, OKC, Wichita. Even if I-45 is completed to I-49 one day, I-69 & the Texarkana spur to I-49 will be a faster route to KC. Basically, I-69 should eliminate SA, Austin, DFW, OKC from the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes. The NAFTA superhighway already has Memphis in its route which has the FedEx headquarters, so Amazon putting its 2nd HQ’s along with this soon to be major HWY system might be a good idea.
    Obviously having 2 international airports is nice factor but also include that we have a Spaceport as well, along with a major Port.

  • Pandering: Could it be the building owner is trying his best to get a tenant? Isn’t that what property owners do?

  • Amazon will nnever seriously consider Houston other than a distribution point, and anyone who thinks they will place their new HQ here is in total denial. What does Houston have to offer them other than an ample number of bugs and floods? No, Houston does not fit the Amazon corporate profile, so fogetaboutit.

  • Our freeways can’t handle the extra load of employees

  • Renamed “East Lake” whenever it rains!

  • I just don’t see Amazon giving Houston serious consideration for their HQ2. They will move to a city where they can attract an educated, millennial workforce, and that offers the kind of environment that those highly educated millennial desire. Houston has the international air connectivity and the diversity they are looking for, but, let’s face it, education hasn’t been Texas’ strong suit in a couple decades.

  • I saw on one side of the building it said Day 1
    Any ideas on the meaning?

  • with robotics at nasa, a port, engineers, professionals that specialize in logistics, cheap office space(relative to other cities), Jeff Bezos used to live in Houston, IT people that can be recruited away from Austin, the state of Texas offering advantages…

    …I really think Houston has a legitimate shot at this. hopefully our business leaders do not drop the ball.

    what if Amazon wanted to get into the Energy business???

  • Houston has not problem attracting millenials . . . who can’t get a job in Denver . . . or Seattle . . . or Boston . . . or Portland . . . or Austin.

  • one of amazon’s requisites is a strong culture of recreation and outdoor amenities. being outdoors here is awful a lot of the time, and the landscape is flat as a pancake. i think Dallas would lose for the same reason. same too for Detroit. People from Seattle put the outdoors above everything else…

  • I’m not sure the COH can afford to be giving out the big tax breaks (probably in the billions) that others cities might be dangling. Since AMZN makes little profit, that could be a big factor.

  • Amazon would be great for Houston. But, you seriously need to be delusional to think we are top of any corporate relocation lists. Executives have to live here and don’t want to get flooded out. Duh. Maybe Sly will build a detention pond… or better yet put photos of detention ponds all over the city so they show up on Google street view and he can give the money to a friend instead of actually building them.

  • I mentioned this months ago. Texas is a conservative state. Huge, huge difference from Washington. While it could be Dallas or Austin, I have my doubts Texas will get it. Probably would want a friendly atmosphere. Not deporting immigrants, outlawing abortions, etc. Get your head together cowboys out in the countryside!

  • All the reasons given in these comments for Houston not being a viable Amazon headquarters location are off point. Amazon needs a built-in workforce of people with backgrounds in retail, tech, logistics, and administration; and they want cheap housing in a big city with a big international airport. These requisites scream: DFW. It ought to be considered DFW’s deal to lose by not providing a big-enough incentive package or articulating a grandiose-enough vision. And no, Amazon isn’t looking for a place just like Seattle. They already have a place like Seattle. If they wanted Seattle they could expand in Seattle.

  • Oh Houston, sweetie, Amazon isn’t buying what you’re selling. *squish, squish*.

  • Amazon should renovate the Astrodome for the new location.

  • Amazon and Houston are a match made in heaven. It should probably happen, but it won’t.

  • @TheNiche: Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com will be taking the reins. Bezos, 49, has done most of his political talking with his checkbook, shelling out millions in support of gay marriage last year and thousands more over the years on behalf of mostly Democratic candidates. Those who know Bezos say he has libertarian leanings.


    Sounds like him and Abbott are a match! Abbott sure loves gay rights. Texas was one of the very first states to make gay marriage legal! I guess Bezo’s would be okay with his gay workforce being discriminated against.

  • There’s a very long list of reasons that countless tech companies have chosen to locate in Austin instead of Dallas/Houston.

  • if i was bezos i would put the hq in atlanta. im surprised more companies arent headquartered there.

  • I think the pandering is fantastic. What’s wrong with unabashedly showing Amazon what we’ve got to offer?

    I love the idea of renovating the Astrodome for use as an Amazon warehouse distribution site. As a matter of fact, throw it in for free!! Make it a self-sustaining ecosystem of trees and green space and drop in a few starbucks at each entrance to make them feel loved. What a great way to get it off the books of the County!

    Other industries recruit heavily from Austin and A&M quite easily from Houston. Doesn’t that check the Education box? Two international airports and a major world port. Check. Diversity? check, check, check…

    I can’t say much for the outdoor recreation piece or the flooding. But, I would imagine that Detroit gets at least, if not more, major winter storms that would cause a headache for distribution as well.

  • Austin gave them governmental incentives, and that got the ball rolling.

  • @ HEB>Kroger: Bezos has already committed to substantial investments in the State of Texas, most prominently his acquisition of Whole Foods. His other project, Blue Origin, also has a spaceport in west Texas and it recently committed to building and operating a major plant to manufacture rocket engines in Huntsville, AL; and the reasons it’s there is 1) built-in specialized workforce, 2) government incentives, and 3) making nice with key Alabama congressmen. Yes, Bezos has a political perspective. That’s indisputable. However, he has also demonstrated that he is capable of being politically agnostic for business purposes.
    A reminder, by the way…Amazon is not merely a tech company. It may be tech-driven, but the key functions that keep it churning revenue are retailing, logistics, data centers/telecom, and corporate administration. DFW would be a strong contender for any one of these types of companies to headquarter there — and notice I’m not just saying “operate there”, which is a different matter. Neither Houston’s access to the interstate highway system or its port complex matter in any way shape or form for purposes of attracting a corporate headquarters; but what might matter a great deal is ongoing friction between DFW-based Southwest Airlines and Chicago-based United Airlines. In the headquarters game, mobility of labor and data are critically important but the mobility of physical goods over long distances is minimally important.
    It should also be said that basically all of the big sunbelt cities have a proven ability to draw in labor from other regions of the country. That DFW is consistently #1 or #2 for population growth in absolute terms in any given year demonstrates that a whole damn lot of people are willing to live there; but that it is already a big city puts Amazon in a corporate ecosystem where there is a sustainable built-in labor force; there is such a thing as being too big a fish in too small a pond.
    The only other cities that are contenders, I think, are Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver. But each of those cities comes with a list of contingencies and caveats. An especially large incentive package from any of these cities might could steer the decision away from DFW.

  • HEBis…: How are gays discriminated against? My neighbors on both sides of me in Montrose would beg to differ. Also not sure what federal laws about illegal immigration have to do with Amazon? I do know that immigrants are welcomed here (Texas and the US) and I hope that some plan emerges that will increase the number of legal immigrants (giving them a better shot when here) in exchange for strict enforcement of people here illegally.
    But of course you love to mix up the issue of legal and illegal immigration.
    Also not sure what views on abortion would have to do with Amazon looking to move to Texas. For one, it’s not up to the state to ban. And if it was, are you saying that Amazon has a bunch of women looking to abort their babies so that would cause them not to be able to hire? Oddly enough, various viewpoints that Texans have on abortion haven’t stopped any other business from doing quite well or Texas a whole to lead national job growth numbers.

  • @ Cody: I think that we must acknowledge that many prospective Amazonian workers will weigh their own sense of their political and social identity (or if not the one they have, then the one that they’d like to have) and some idea about how they might fit into a city when deciding which company and in which city to work. I mean hell, I’ve got family ties to Texas that go back to before the Revolution and I’m also exactly the sort of person that’d probably prosper from moving to DFW; approaching it with cold detachment, that’s probably what I myself should do and I probably shouldn’t waste any time doing it; and yet somehow I don’t feel like I’d be a very good fit there. There is absolutely nothing about the Metroplex that appeals to me at all. It might as well be an oversized Kansas City but without its own style of BBQ with a lot of people from all sorts of uninteresting places that aren’t Texas for all the sense of belonging that I’d feel actually moving there. Can’t put my finger on it as to why, maybe the blandness of its history and geography and some sense that it has no reason to exist other than business purpose, and that alone.
    If that factored into Amazon’s thinking, well if I were a shareholder I would probably fault them for that. Dallas is a fine choice for their corporate headquarters. However, as an individual, I have totally irrational preferences for Houston, Austin, and SA that simply are what they are. Lots of much more normal people than I am also have irrational preferences, and despite their nonsensicality, they can be predicted and mulled over. They can be made a factor. But Amazon has Seattle already, and this is a matter that cuts both ways. That favors a locale like Dallas even more.

  • I think the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, and the Research Triangle of North Carolina ( Raleigh/Durham/Cary) are also very much in the running for this.

  • DC is an expensive city without much private-sector talent in tech/retail/logistics/telecom/corporate. If Amazon demands an East Coast presence then Atlanta is a far better choice than DC.
    Austin handily beats Raleigh in every category and already has Amazon’s Whole Foods headquarters there. However, neither Austin or Raleigh have hub airports.