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UT Dallas, Dallas Midtown Project May Attract Amazon's HQ2 To DFW

DALLAS (CBS11) - Access to light rail could help UT Dallas or the Dallas Midtown Project lure Amazon's second corporate headquarters and up to 50,000 jobs.

UT Dallas Vice-President of Administration Calvin Jamison tells CBS11 the university is working closely with the city of Richardson, Richardson Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas Regional Chamber to lure Amazon's HQ2 to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

"We think at the end of the day, we would be an attractive entity for someone like an Amazon."

Jamison points to the planned Cotton Belt commuter rail line, which runs through the campus, sitting in the heart of Richardson.

The rail line connects East Plano with DFW International Airport.

The university will build a rail station along with apartments, restaurants, stores and offices around it.

Apartments and pubs are already open in what's called Northside near the future rail station.

Jamison says, "You'll be able to land at DFW, get on the Cotton Belt and then get off at UT Dallas, check into their place of residence, and then go across the street to classes or if you're visiting to see research professors."

In addition, UT Dallas has room to grow on its undeveloped 100 acres of land along the Bush Turnpike.

The university's population has nearly doubled from 14,000 students in 2007 to nearly 28,000 students now.

Most of the students are studying science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and management, which is what the university believes is a perfect fit for Amazon.

Jamison says, "We have light rail, access to George Bush, we're 30 minutes from both airports and have a great talent pool."

The online retailing giant has said access to light rail, mass transit, major highways an international airport, and 100 acres of land are requirements.

Access to light rail may also help developers attract Amazon's HQ2 to their Dallas Midtown project.

It's being built on the site of the Valley View Mall, along the LBJ Freeway near Preston and Alpha Roads in North Dallas.

On Thursday afternoon, the Regional Transportation Council at the North Central Texas Council of Governments approved conducting a $600,000 conceptual engineering study for a people-mover that would connect DART's red line rail station along Forest Lane east of Central Expressway and a Cotton Belt rail station being built in Addison.

Scott Beck of Beck Ventures, one of the Dallas Midtown developers says, "We couldn't be more excited."

While it's only a study, Beck thinks it has great potential. "This diagonal east-west connector that really will connect the red line to the Cotton Belt through Addison, through Farmers Branch and through Dallas really makes a lot of sense and ultimately for a company like Amazon becomes the glue that holds the entire project together."

If approved, he says there would be a stop near a park that's also part of the project. "We like to refer it now as Amazon Park."

Amazon wants to open the first phase of its second headquarters with 500,000 square feet of office space in 2019.

The company says its new campus will ultimately grow to eight million square feet.

Beck says there's plenty of room at Dallas Midtown. "The plan for Dallas Midtown, which is 430 acres, has the availability for over 20 million square feet of office space."

Beck's firm, EF Properties, and Seritage and KDC are developing Dallas Midtown and have teamed up to lure Amazon.

KDC, Crescent, and Hillwood are a part of that team.

Beck says they filed their proposal with the city of Dallas on Wednesday.

At least a dozen cities are submitting plans for the Amazon project by Friday, September 29 to the Dallas Regional Chamber, which will then send them in one joint proposal for the company to consider by October 19.

Amazon has said it will announce the winning location sometime next year.

While each city and developer is hoping to land the new headquarters, everyone we spoke with about this project says the most important thing is for Amazon's HQ2 to be located somewhere in the DFW region.

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