Pittsburgh is amping up efforts to persuade online retail giant Amazon to build its second headquarters here.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s board of directors on Thursday voted unanimously to hire Pittsburgh-based Maya Design, a subsidiary of The Boston Consulting Group Inc. of Boston, to help prepare a “very robust” proposal for Amazon
The company would be paid a maximum of $248,000. The URA’s share of that would be $50,000. Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and foundations have pledged to kick in the rest, said Kevin Acklin, URA board chair and chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto.
“The cost is steep, we know that,” said URA Executive Director Robert Rubinstein. “Pittsburgh has many competitive advantages. We really want to take a good run at it.”
Last week, Amazon announced it was looking for a second home that would be the equal of its headquarters in Seattle. The revelation prompted mayors and development officials from major cities nationwide to start organizing proposals, which would undoutedly include tax subsidies to entice Amazon to invest $5 billion in construction and create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.
Acklin said Boston Consulting recently acquired Pittsburgh-based Maya Design, which last year prepared the city’s application for a $50 million federal Smart City Challenge grant to redesign the city’s transportation system. That grant went to Columbus, Ohio.
“Their total proposed contract is $248,000,” Acklin said. “That would carry us through the engagement, production of materials, meetings with the community telling the story and producing the actual proposal.”
He said the Mayor’s Office has been meeting over the last week with officials from around the region and developers to locate potential sites including the Almono development in Hazelwood, the former Civic Arena property in the Lower Hill District and space along the rivers.
Officials have also asked municipalities from a 10-county region around Pittsburgh to submit their best property candidates for consideration. While Amazon is looking for an urban location, Acklin said, property around the Pittsburgh International Airport could serve as an ancillary site.
Acklin said developers who own the properties would be asked for concessions.
“We think Amazon knows about us,” he said, adding that some company executives have attended Pittsburgh universities. “They know about the universities, our relatively low cost of living, the competitive advantages we have being in Pittsburgh. We’re going to compete hard for this.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.