The coronavirus pandemic has shut down American life as we know it, but construction remains underway on Amazon’s second headquarters in Northern Virginia and is producing noise that’s frustrating many homebound residents nearby.
The Seattle-based online retail giant is building twin 22-story buildings in Pentagon City as part of its project that will eventually draw 25,000 employees to southern Arlington County — an area that’s been branded National Landing.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order through at least June 10, but that has not slowed down construction.
“The governor’s order has allowed work to continue as long as work is done safely,” said Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti.
But neighbors who live around the site are fed up with the deafening noise coming from pile driving and other construction operations.
“People are at home more, so there is concern about the sound on the construction that is being done,” said de Ferranti.
“That’s been the primary concern.”
That concern has led to an online petition, calling on lead contractor Clark Construction to halt the project until the stay-at-home order is lifted.
“In addition to the noise issues, there is neither oversight nor accountability in ensuring that Amazon and Clark Construction are maintaining public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the petition said.
Clark Construction has said it is taking precautions to minimize the risk of infection.
“These measures include increasing the number of hand-washing stations, eliminating all large group meetings, and resequencing construction activities to create greater physical distancing,” the company said in a statement.
“Protecting our workforce and enabling our trade partners to put their crews to work in a safe, controlled, and healthy environment is paramount.”
Amazon’s headquarters, known as HQ2, will be an approximately 2-million square-foot mixed-use set of buildings that will house a day care facility for employees and other residents, ground-level retail shops, an underground parking garage and an indoor event space for county-sanctioned events.
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HQ2 is expected to be completed in 2023.
The coronavirus pandemic could lead to complications with a $23 million incentives package that was approved by the Arlington County Board last year.
Under the deal, if Amazon hits job and performance targets, the company can receive a percentage of a planned increase in the hotel tax that is paid by visitors.
“Because hotels are down so much, there’s some chance that there wouldn’t be an increase in the hotel tax,” de Ferranti said.