To Lure Amazon, 3 Places in Virginia Get New Name No One’s Heard Before

Max Schwager had never heard of National Landing despite living there for more than a year.

That changed on Tuesday, when Amazon said it would open a huge regional office in Northern Virginia in what it called “an urban community less than three miles from downtown Washington” within walking distance of subway stops, a commuter rail station and Ronald Reagan National Airport.

The “community” the company was referring to actually encompasses three distinct districts: Pentagon City, where Mr. Schwager currently lives, Crystal City and Potomac Yard. The first two are in Arlington County; the third is in the City of Alexandria.

But according to Amazon, the area has a new name: National Landing.

Mr. Schwager did not think local residents would buy it.

“It’ll take decades for this name to actually take off, if it even ever does,” said Mr. Schwager, a theater manager who has lived in the region for seven years. “Especially with neighborhoods, people around here like to stick to their guns.”

Amazon did not come up with the National Landing name. Arlington and Alexandria officials coined it after joining forces to prepare a single bid to persuade the company to put its second headquarters in the region. Presenting the area as a collection of neighborhoods, they reasoned, could make their application less compelling.

Arlington, in its own announcement, described National Landing as a “newly branded neighborhood.” Crystal City said it was “not a name change or rebrand, but the next step in framing the area as Virginia’s largest downtown.”

“Talking to someone from not around here, it can be sort of confusing and doesn’t represent how cohesive the district is to say, oh, here are some buildings in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard,” said Stephanie Landrum, chief executive of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. “The name was really intended to reflect the fact that jurisdictional boundaries are invisible around here.”

Soon after Amazon’s official announcement that it would split its new headquarters between Northern Virginia and Queens, N.Y., Twitter lit up. Residents did not appear to be impressed.

Amazon said the area would reap significant benefits from the company’s arrival: more than 25,000 full-time jobs, $2.5 billion in Amazon investments and $3.2 billion in tax revenue over two decades. In 1998, a North Dakota town changed its name to that of brand of Canadian schnapps for far less: $100,000.

The local real estate developer JBG Smith said on a website promoting National Landing that it would work with Amazon to “transform” the area by increasing the number of transit options, creating a 130,000-square-foot retail-and-entertainment complex and adding 40,000 more residential units to the nearly 400,000 that now exist.

But in an area where many residents still refer to the major sports arena as the MCI Center — despite two rechristenings in the past dozen years — it could be a while before the new name sticks.

“I can’t envision myself ever saying to someone that I live in National Landing,” Mr. Schwager said.

Follow Tiffany Hsu on Twitter: @tiffkhsu.

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