As Amazon dances through courtship rituals with the 20 cities hoping to host its second headquarters, the company is also charging ahead on a slate of other real estate projects.
This week, the e-commerce giant announced a significant expansion of its offices in Boston and Vancouver, British Columbia, planning for a total of 5,000 new tech jobs. Earlier in April, it said it would open its fourth fulfillment center in Nevada, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to North Las Vegas. In March, it revealed plans to build its first such facility in Missouri.
“They’ve been on a pretty blistering pace, getting a lot of space everywhere,” said Greg Melich, an analyst with MoffettNathanson.
Building research and development centers to support new technology, while also enlarging its vast network of distribution centers, has increased Amazon’s capital expenditures so that they now roughly equal Walmart’s, Mr. Melich said.
In Boston, Amazon confirmed on Tuesday that it would move into 430,000 square feet in WS Development’s Seaport project, bringing 2,000 jobs in machine learning, speech science, cloud computing and robotics engineering. That will double its technology work force in the metropolitan area.
The emphasis on speech science is a sign that Amazon is betting that its Alexa digital assistant is at the vanguard of voice-based commerce, a form of shopping that Mr. Melich said was poised to grow at a rapid clip the way mobile buying did several years ago.
Boston is one of the finalists in the heated competition to lure Amazon’s new headquarters, known as HQ2. The project promises up to 50,000 new jobs and more than $5 billion in investment — but has also raised concerns about rising property prices and intensifying urban congestion.
It was not clear if Amazon’s investment in the Boston Seaport project offered any clues to the city’s chances of landing HQ2. The company is expected to announce its selection this year.
“Everyone wants the cake, which is the headquarters, but if not, they’ll take the icing,” said Dennis Frenchman, a professor of urban design and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Boston officials approved $5 million in property tax incentives over 15 years for Amazon to occupy its Seaport offices, and have dangled another $5 million in breaks if the company agrees to more local expansion and job creation.
On Monday in Vancouver, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, helped Amazon announce a new 416,000-square-foot-office, to open in 2022 at the Post, a site redeveloped by the QuadReal Property Group.
The facility will add 3,000 tech jobs to Amazon’s current head count in the area.
Vancouver did not land on Amazon’s short list of possible headquarters locations. But it is a three-hour drive from Seattle, where Amazon is based, and a short flight from the California tech centers where Amazon likes to recruit employees.
Vancouver has also drawn attention from Microsoft, which is based across the border in Washington State.
Microsoft helped back the creation of a direct seaplane service between Seattle and Vancouver that began last week. The company said in September that it would pitch in $50,000 to supplement $300,000 in Washington State funding for a study of how to link the Pacific Northwest to Vancouver via high-speed rail.
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