Campaigning for Amazon's second HQ: Behind the scenes look

To get a sense of how much work went into just one application to become Amazon's second headquarters, KING 5 interviewed the city of Chula Vista, California’s mayor and a developer there.

More than 100 applicants for Amazon’s second headquarters turned in their proposals this week.

Amazon’s HQ2 search is a public process. The Seattle-based company will decide on what it calls its ‘second-but-equal’ headquarters next year.

To get a sense of how much work went into just one application, KING 5 interviewed the city of Chula Vista, California’s mayor and a developer there.

Loading ...

Developer Lee Chesnut said he’s been involved in the specific development for three years, but the project has been in the works about 15 years.

>>Related: Listen to KING 5's The Sound Podcast

“When the RFP (request for proposal) hit, it was like, ‘This is what we’ve been preparing for,” said Chesnut. “It was too good to be true. To be honest.”

Chula Vista’s pitch includes $400 million in incentives, a new university catered to Amazon’s needs, and a shovel-ready location.

“We have 4 million square feet ready to build for Amazon plus another four million or more,” said Chesnut.

Chula Vista’s mayor, Mary Casillas Salas, said 12 city staffers worked two weeks straight to refine the proposal. She said city staff had already started a marketing campaign for the development. The city and Chesnut Properties nearly doubled its office space offering to meet the RFP’s goals.

When asked how he’d approach the application if they didn’t have the headstart, Chesnut answered: “I don’t think it’s possible.” He added that’s because most of the red tape and studying had already been handled.

Salas said she’d heard of Amazon’s growing pains in Seattle, namely adding to the area’s traffic and helping drive housing costs upward. She said that had already been studied by the city.

“All that land is already entitled for that high intensity kind of use,” she explained.

The mayor also touted the city’s seven-mile proximity to the Mexican border, saying Tijuana has a strong community of tech engineers.

Loading ...

Chestnut downplayed what he thinks Chula Vista’s chances are, but he believes the city make the best proposal it could.

And the invitation isn’t just to Jeff Bezos.

“As incredible as Amazon is, there are other tech companies out there that week we would love to build bridges with,” said Chesnut.