Amazon discussions lead to speculation that northern Virginia is HQ2 frontrunner

Amazon.com Inc. has held “advanced discussions” about opening its second headquarters in Arlington, Va., according to The Washington Post.

Guesses about where the new headquarters, or HQ2, would land have included Boston, Newark, N.J. and New York City, which reportedly offered to rename a polluted waterway in honor of the tech giant.

See: New York said to woo Amazon: Bring HQ2 and we’ll rename a toxic creek after you

However, the talks about Arlington have been “more detailed” than those about other locations, the Washington Post reports, which has led to speculation that it is the frontrunner.

Sources tell the paper that the top real estate developer in Crystal City, JBG Smith Properties JBGS, +0.00% , has taken some properties off of the market in preparation for an announcement.

JBG Smith was upgraded to hold from sell at Stifel earlier this month, with analysts citing potential moves from Amazon AMZN, +0.00%  and Apple Inc. AAPL, -6.63%  into Northern Virginia.

Analysts say Apple might be putting 20,000 employees at the Center of Innovative Technology near Dulles Airport. And Amazon Web Services could be looking for 200,000 square feet of office space in the area.

“Although we have no direct knowledge, we are beginning to think the Crystal City sub market may ultimately be the location of the Amazon core retail and logistics enterprise,” the note said. “[W]e noticed recently that of the top 25 cyber security companies headquartered in the Washington D.C. area, 25 are in Northern Virginia.”

Stifel raised its price target for JBG Smith shares to $37 from $34.

Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos told a conference crowd this week that the decision will ultimately come down to “intuition” after all of the data has been considered.

Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

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Discussions about HQ2 have been kept quiet, but among the D.C. area’s assets are access to Reagan National Airport and other transportation hubs and available office space.

Northern Virginia is also the top choice among betting sites, the Washington Post wrote. Sources say a decision will be coming in November.

Amazon shares have gained nearly 50% in the past year while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.63%  is up 5.2% for the period.

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