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FILE - In this June 30, 2011, file photo, a United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from Amazon.com in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

A tale of two cities: Virginia's Crystal City, New York's Long Island City to share Amazon's HQ2

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By ALAN SUDERMAN and JOSEPH PISANI, Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Amazon will split its second headquarters between Long Island City in New York and Crystal City in northern Virginia, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The online retailer is expected to make an official announcement later Tuesday. The person was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of that announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity. Amazon has declined to comment.

The decision would end an intense competition between North American cities to win Amazon and its promise of 50,000 new jobs. Some locations tried to stand out with stunts, but Amazon made clear that it really wanted incentives, like tax breaks and grants. The company received 238 proposals before narrowing the list to 20 in January.

Long Island City and Crystal City would meet Amazon's other requirements: be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and have room to expand. Amazon also wants to able to attract top technical talent and be able to expand the headquarters.

Amazon is 2nd U.S. company to reach $1 trillion market value

Rapidly growing Long Island City, in the borough of Queens, is an old manufacturing area where warehouses are being replaced with apartment-filled glass towers.

And Crystal City, across from the nation's capital, is made up of 1980s-era office towers. The area is trying to revive itself after thousands of federal jobs moved elsewhere.

In setting off the flurry of interest, Amazon said it could spend more than $5 billion to build its second headquarters over the next 17 years.

But splitting the second headquarters between Long Island City and Crystal City would beg the question of whether the new locations would be headquarters at all. It's unclear where Amazon's executives — such as CEO and founder Jeff Bezos — would spend much of their time. If each location gets 25,000 jobs, that would make it smaller than Seattle's, which houses more than 40,000 workers.

Nonetheless, the extra space will help the rapidly growing company. Launched in 1995 as an online bookstore, Amazon now produces movies, makes voice-activated Echo devices, runs the Whole Foods grocery chain, offers online services to businesses and designs its own brands of furniture, clothing and diapers.

Amazon's employee total has ballooned to more than 610,000 worldwide, and that's expected to increase as it builds more warehouses across the country to keep up with online orders. The company recently announced that it would pay all its workers at least $15 an hour, but the employees at its second headquarters will be paid a lot more — Amazon says they'll make an average of more than $100,000 a year.

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Pisani reported from New York.

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