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Amazon HQ2 could bring 'severe' rent increases to Pittsburgh, study finds

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, 2:48 p.m.
In this April 27, 2017 file photo, construction continues on three large, glass-covered domes as part of an expansion of the Amazon.com campus in downtown Seattle. Amazon said Thursday, Sept. 7, that it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees.
In this April 27, 2017 file photo, construction continues on three large, glass-covered domes as part of an expansion of the Amazon.com campus in downtown Seattle. Amazon said Thursday, Sept. 7, that it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees.

Landing Amazon's second headquarters for Pittsburgh could add an extra $10 to $14 to your monthly rent, according to an analysis by Apartment List .

The apartment locating service looked at historical building rates and Census data, including average wages to determine what impact Amazon's HQ2 could have on 15 cities believed to be top contenders.

An analysis by Apartment List determined what impact landing Amazon's second headquarters would have on rents in 15 different cities.

Pittsburgh ranked third on the list with Amazon's headquarters increasing rents 1.2 to 1.6 percent a year on top of the normal annual rent growth of 3 percent. The study classified it as a severe rent increase.

"Even if the metro builds quickly, which we assume they will, prices would rise due to increased competition for apartments by renters with significantly higher incomes," the analysis stated.

Pittsburgh finished behind Raleigh, N.C., where rents would jump 1.5 to 2 percent a year, and San Jose, Calif., where rents would increase 1 to 1.6 percent.

Apartment List pegged the median rent in Pittsburgh at $837 a month. The analysis determined that an Amazon headquarters in the city could cost renters $6,970 to $9,533 over a 10-year period.

"For some metros, such as Pittsburgh or Detroit, the rent growth may be a smaller price to pay for a boom in employment," the analysis concluded.

Amazon's impact on Pittsburgh housing has been a concern from the start of the bid process. The team that worked on Pittsburgh's bid said it touted the city's affordability, but people have questioned if luring Amazon to the city would destroy that as the company brought in high-wage jobs that would send rents and housing prices skyrocketing.

Bopaya Bidanda, a professor who chairs the University of Pittsburgh's department of industrial engineering, told the Tribune-Review in September when Amazon announced it was looking for a location for a second headquarters that it would take four or five major companies coming to the city before rents would reach Bay Area or Silicon Valley levels.

San Francisco wasn't included in the Apartment List study, but a rental report from Abodo , another apartment hunting service, ranked the city at the top of its July report. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco was $3,240, according to the report. San Jose came in third at $2,378. Seattle, home to Amazon's headquarters, has an average monthly rent of $1,748, according to the report.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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