I visited the campus that McDonald's is trying to convince Amazon to buy before it's abandoned - here's why that's an amazing idea for both companies
- McDonald's is leaving its longtime headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, this spring.
- The fast-food giant's more than 100 acres of land in the Chicago suburb is one site that has been proposed for Amazon's second headquarters project, called HQ2.
- Business Insider visited the headquarters and saw why McDonald's soon-to-be-abandoned campus could be a good fit for Amazon.
Amazon has a long list of demands for its new headquarters. Beyond finding the perfect city, the e-commerce giant needs to find a site with up to eight million square feet of space, a good quality of life, and easy access to an international airport.
The fast-food chain is moving its headquarters from Chicago suburb Oak Brook, Illinois, to the city proper in the first half of 2018. And, it wants Amazon to take over its soon-to-be abandoned campus.I recently had a chance to visit McDonald's headquarters - and saw why the property could be the perfect fit for Amazon.
McDonald's headquarters are located in a suburb of Chicago called Oak Brook.
McDonald's campus is located in a woodsy area with two ponds, boxed in by a country club and sports fields.
McDonald's campus is roughly 74 acres. It's a sizable patch of land containing two small lakes, a walking path, hotel, office buildings, and employee-training site Hamburger University.
I first visited the Lodge, which looks like a pretty standard old-school Hyatt from the outside.
Entering the hotel, it's easy to be lulled into the feeling that you aren't, in fact, on McDonald's campus.
Then, you catch a glimpse of one of the pieces of art hanging on the wall.
The variety of McDonald's-themed works of art is truly incredible.
Other than that, it's a lovely hotel — normal in every way, except the fact that Ronald McDonald lurks around every corner.
And yes, it has restaurants — and not fast food. In fact, a sign warns that visitors are not allowed to bring outside food into the lounge.
The same atmosphere pervades McDonald's campus as a whole — something that makes it ideal for Amazon ownership. There may be touches of the fast-food giant's presence, but it is far from overwhelming.
On my self-guided tour of the campus, I was struck by how scenic — and expansive — the campus was.
First stop: Hamburger University, which is connected to the Hyatt by a bridge. McDonald's opened the $40 million facility in 1983.
A "Hamburger University" flag flies alongside the American flag outside.
But again, the McDonald's branding is minimal amidst the sculptures and winding walking paths.
Despite the chilly weather, it is a lovely campus to walk around.
Last stop: McDonald's offices.
McDonald's has a bigger office — McDonald's Plaza — that could additionally serve as part of a packaged deal for Amazon or other buyers. Combined, the two locations host roughly 3,000 corporate employees.
Inside, the on-campus headquarters has everything the typical workspace would — plus a test kitchen and a fully-functioning McDonald's.
Ultimately, the specific offices are less crucial to Amazon's pick for HQ2 than the space's potential.
McDonald's soon-to-be-ex-headquarters fit many of Amazon's qualifications, in both size and location.
Oak Brook could certainly use the replacement. McDonald's exodus has sent shockwaves through the suburb.
It's not in the depths of a city, so if Amazon wants to be in an urban center, they can look elsewhere — including eight proposed sites in Chicago proper. But, as I walked around the campus, I was impressed by the tranquility of the campus and the potential of the space.
It makes sense that McDonald's wants to leave as it works to improve its reputation and modernize the business. A more suburban spot for Amazon, however, could boost the company's reputation in different ways.
Further, McDonald's has been a symbol of American business across the globe for the last six decades. As Amazon's ambitions grow, it is increasingly becoming a new symbol of the nation.
As Amazon searches for its new headquarters, it is lucky enough to be looking at a time when an empty campus of another industry leader is up for grabs. Why shouldn't the e-commerce giant snatch up McDonald's campus while it is free?
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