A-peel-ing idea: Amazon HQ2 might include a free-banana stand

Metropolitan Park rendering
The vision for Arlington’s Metropolitan Park is seen on Amazon’s Seattle campus. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Arlington could get a community banana stand, similar to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
Arlington could get a community banana stand, similar to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
proposed amazon building
This rendering illustrates one of the first buildings Amazon plans to build as part of its Northern Virginia headquarters. It will be located in Crystal City next to Metropolitan Park. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Metropolitan Park rendering
Arlington could get a community banana stand, similar to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
proposed amazon building

Amazon’s HQ2 plan for Northern Virginia could go bananas.

The company wants to offer a bunch of things in Arlington that everyone can enjoy, and that includes space for local businesses, outdoor activities and a day care — as well as cartloads of free fruit.

“We look for opportunities to bring delight and surprise to our design and our neighborhood presence,” John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate said during a presentation at a community meeting in Arlington this week.

The meeting was held to kick off the review process for Amazon’s first HQ2-related construction project at Metropolitan Park in Crystal City, which will include two 22-story office towers.

“The project will include public art, resilient landscaping and could even include a community banana stand,” said Schoettler.

Banana stands were launched at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters in 2016.

“Since its inception, several million free bananas have been given out to Amazon employees, local residents, community members and visitors alike. The banana stands are a very popular community amenity,” Schoettler said.

The office buildings will have first-floor shops and restaurants, but don’t expect the space to be gobbled up by big national brands.

“As the property owner, Amazon has the ability to carefully curate the ground floor retail to ensure all retail spaces are filled with locally owned and operated businesses. As we have done in Seattle, here in Arlington we will work hard to foster a vibrant and varied retail district,” Schoettler said.

“We are also planning for a day care center … for area residents and Amazonians, complete with an outdoor play area for the kids.”

The company also wants to create more space for outdoor activities: At Metropolitan Park, for instance, 100,000 square feet of new open space is proposed.

“The space will be privately owned, but publicly accessible,” Schoettler said. “This is in addition to the existing central green, plus with the stepped massing of our design, creates a series of rooftop gardens that terrace up the building.

“In Seattle, we host community farmer markets and are committed to supporting well-programmed and well-used public open space here at Met Park.”

If Arlington County’s review and approval process goes as expected, Amazon may be able to break ground in 2020. The company hopes to have one building completed in 2022, and the second in 2023.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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