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Feb 15, 2019

It’s Official: Amazon Pulls Out Of LIC For Good

After a long and much-publicized bid for the new location of its second headquarters, Amazon has decided to not make Long Island City its new home. There’s been a lot (…)

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After a long and much-publicized bid for the new location of its second headquarters, Amazon has decided to not make Long Island City its new home.

There’s been a lot of debate in the neighborhood — and beyond — about whether or not the e-commerce giant’s move to Queens would bring good or ill to the city. Proponents cited new jobs and economic growth, while critics voiced concerns about raises in rent, congestion, and allocation of tax dollars.

But on February 14, Amazon ended the discussion: they’re not coming. The company, after clashing with both local activists and politicians, which appeared to give them pause about moving in, and who had never formally leased any real estate, announced that they will not be establishing a second headquarters in New York. This came even after polls suggested that the majority of New Yorkers approved of the company moving in and after a campaign to appeal to local residents.

“A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward,” an official statement from Amazon said.

Neither Mayor Bill de Blasio, nor Governor Andrew Cuomo, both of whom championed the development, were able to speak with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos regarding the decision.

Some local politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michael Gianaris, who both vehemently opposed the new headquarters, are celebrating.

Image via Twitter / Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

However, it seems opinions are still divided over whether this is a step forward or backward for the city, and, more immediately, for the citizens of Long Island City and the surrounding areas. Some are relieved, and some are disappointed. Those that are relieved cite their concerns about the taxpayer-funded subsidies and the impacts on the culture of Queens neighborhoods. They reference the growth of other major, multi-billion dollar companies like Google, who did not expand with the help of subsidies, as a better model. However, those who are disappointed cite the possible stunting of local economic growth and possibility for the city in the future, especially in economically uncertain times.

Even the politicians who originally backed the company’s move are divided in their responses to the abrupt announcement. Governor Cuomo blamed the State Senate’s newly emboldened Democrat majority, saying, “A small group of politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state.”

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio placed the onus on Amazon, saying that they didn’t work hard enough with the local community to reach common ground. “We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world,” he said. “Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.” He characterized the company as a whole as being unprepared for the New York environment: “You have to be tough to make it in New York City.”

For now, it looks like Amazon will not be coming to Queens, but will instead be pursuing opportunities in Virginia and Tennessee for its second headquarter locations, both of which have already given the company the go-ahead to pursue its developments.

So, Astorians, what do you think about all this? Do you think it’s a loss for Queens and for New York, or do you think it’s a step towards protecting local business and community? Let us know your thoughts!

6 Comments

shay

Actually this was a HUGE financial win for NYC taxpayers. We should have a voice where our tax dollars are spent & Amazon was not able to demonstrate how they would add 25K jobs whereas most of permanent sustainable long term jobs were with Amazon personnel relocating in. Who cares if developers lost money, most developers also have been given huge tax credits also. It is time that developers focus on building sustainable affordable housing for the residents of LIC. Majority of Hunters Point South Highrises sit vacant because they are overpriced. Amazon moving in would only increase these rents which we all witnessed before the formal announcement.

The future of our neighborhoods and the businesses that serve our neighborhoods should add to our diversity. Amazon didn’t meet criteria for a business adding to our richness and instead would only be taking away without ever giving back unless you count all the traffic congestion or mounting cardboard trash.

Celebrate LIC, we did it! Power of the people

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AKP Astoria

This is a staggeringly huge loss for Astoria/LIC. The math was so obvious on the near and long-term benefits.

– NYC was giving $500 million upfront to help fund construction which would have went to local construction companies. This would have amounted several thousands jobs near-term.
– State and local taxes on the 25k jobs would have been close to $400 million per year. This in theory would have been in perpetuity. The payback period on the remaining tax incentives would have been 5-6 years after which it all goes to the bottom line of State and City coffers.
– None of this takes into account the additional economic activity that would have been spurred around the new HQ: real estate development, activity to existing small businesses, new small businesses (restaurants, cafes, bars, list goes on), courier services, Uber/lifts, construction for a new walking bridge to connect LIC to Roosevelt and eventually to Manhattan (now also squashed). And on and on.

Bottom line is that Amazon’s presence would have cemented NYC, and within it Astoria/LIC, as a growth market for years to come. Sadly this was all squandered due to nonsensical politics.

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Cookie Monster

Amazon was unprepared and completely ignorant to its LIC HQ2 plan. They expected for NYC LIC to roll out the welcome mat and be treated like VIPs thanks to Cuomo practically giving them a key to the City and showing them they could bypass any local official (and probably any ordinance.) The mere fact that real estate prices in LIC jumped within hours, minutes of their planned HQ and that people were buying condos from elsewhere without even seeing properties was a ominous worst case gentrification sign all around. These high paying tech jobs are all made up of a certain demo and are almost never offered to those already living in the neighborhood (look at San Francisco and the Bay Area.) And was it or is it really possible for 25K workers to descend on the intersection of Vernon Blvd and 44th Drive on a daily basis?

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Elizabeth Frank

I absolutely think it’s a step towards protecting local business and community. Landlords were already pre-emptively jacking up rents. Amazon is a horrible employer.

https://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-work-at-amazon-2018-2

At the one city council meeting, when asked to explain exactly what jobs they would provide to the community — the community it would destroy — they said they would bring 30 call center jobs to local residents.

https://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/news/2019/01/30/amazon-execs-try-to-quell-protests-at-city-council.html

These “25,000 jobs” of $150K + . . . they wouldn’t have gone to Queens residents.

Why did a trillion dollar company which pays no federal income tax need 3 billion in tax incentives to come here and why, at the first hint of dissent, did it run away, without even speaking to the government officials who made that tax break possible? That should tell you what kind of employer it would have been.

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Breuk Iversen

This is a huge FINANCIAL loss for Queens and NYC, and all the developers who had pummeled very deep beams into the earth in LIC. Their hopes on finally renting those 20-50 story glass boxes, in a location where there is a culture of no culture (LIC), are squashed.

Amazon asked for $3.Bn but had an expected revenue of $300.Bn annually. This would’ve been added INCOME TAX collected for Queens and NYC (new roads, repairs, schools, educational and cultural centers, etc… It’s not like Amazon is some “off the collar” company that doesn’t have an epic portfolio of sales and assets to show what their projected numbers are this year or the next 20 years.

Queens should now get the “Stupidest Borough of NYC award” for 2019. Corporate greed? Morons!

This is another reason I’m glad I moved to Staten Island last year.

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Magnoozo

I dunno this complicated economic stuff me no understand these complications or shop amazon big things I no involve in me spend small local thrift used

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