Amazon yanks NYC HQ2: What’s next for the online giant?

Amazon drops plans to add headquarters in New York City amid local opposition

Amazon yanks NYC HQ2: What’s next for the online giant?
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Amazon on Thursday said it would be pulling a deal that would bring the company's second headquarters to Long Island City. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

ALBANY – Amazon broke up with New York City on Valentine's Day.

In a stunning development, Amazon said Thursday it will no longer pursue a second headquarters in New York City amid local opposition from some elected officials.

The change of plans by the world's largest online retailer comes after reports last week that Amazon was reevaluating its decision last year to put one of its two new headquarters in Long Island City in Queens.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” the company said on its website.

“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term.” 

Amazon was promising to bring between 25,000 to 40,000 jobs to the city, in exchange for up to $3 billion in tax breaks from the state and city governments.

Competition won't reopen

FILE- In this Nov. 7, 2018, file photo, a rusting ferryboat is docked next to an aging industrial warehouse on Long Island City's Anable Basin in the Queens borough of New York. Amazon said Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, that it will not be building a new headquarters in New York, a stunning reversal after a yearlong search. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) (Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)

New York and Virginia won a national competition last year to land the new Amazon headquarters.

Amazon said Thursday it has no plans to reopen the competition and will proceed “as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.”

In recent days, several cities, including Newark, New Jersey, said they would be eager to talk again to Amazon if the Seattle-based company wanted to reconsider its plans.

Amazon made it clear Thursday that the local opposition was too much of an obstacle for the Queens project to continue.

“While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, 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 with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” Amazon's statement continued.

More: Amazon cancels HQ2 in NYC, could Newark get more Amazon jobs?

Opinion:Losing Amazon HQ2 bad for NYC

Opposition built

Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world. https://t.co/nyvm5vtH9k

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 14, 2019

The public subsidies for the project, plus concerns about gentrification of Long Island City, sparked significant opposition from residents and political leaders, including Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” she wrote on .

They feared that the public services in the city — the subways, the schools and the neighborhoods — would be overtaken by Amazon.

Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, had yet to lease or purchase office space for the New York City project, the paper reported Friday.

What may have been the final straw for Amazon was a recent decision by the state Senate to add one of the most vocal opponents of the project to a little-known state board — the Public Authorities Control Board.

The Senate appointed Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, to the board, which would have to have approved at least some of the public aid for the project.

Critics said the deal was brokered without public knowledge.

“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event,” Gianaris said in a statement.

“Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way.”

More: Do New Yorkers support $3 billion for Amazon? Poll has interesting findings

More: Amazon played us: New York state senator

Supporters dejected

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Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell discuss Amazon's decision to drop plans for a New York City HQ on Thurs., Feb. 14, 2019. Albany Bureau

Cuomo put the blame squarely on the Senate for scuttling the deal.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

But Cuomo said the reasons Amazon wanted to come to New York — its talent pool, education system and diversity — will sustain even without the company.

“We won't be deterred as we continue to attract world class business to communities across New York state.”

Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio helped broker the deal and warned for weeks that local opposition could jeopardize it.

Cuomo's office said the $3 billion in public subsidies would be small compared to the estimated $27 billion in economic activity and jobs the company would bring to the city and metropolitan area, an estimate culled from a state-financed report. 

De Blasio on Thursday knocked Amazon for the decision.

“You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” he said in a statement. “We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.”

Republicans in New York blamed Democrats for Amazon's decision. They had hoped Amazon would led to job opportunities for the whole region, including the Hudson Valley and Long Island.

“From the start, the Senate Democrats have politicized and poisoned this process just so they could avoid the wrath of the extreme left wing of their party,” said Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County.

More: Report: Amazon reconsidering its New York headquarters amid local opposition

Dissenters applaud Amazon's decision

FILE- In this Nov. 16, 2018, file photo graffiti has been painted on a sidewalk by someone opposed to the location of an Amazon headquarters in the Long Island City neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York. Amazon said Thursday, Feb.

14, 2019, that it will not be building a new headquarters in New York, a stunning reversal after a yearlong search. The online retailer has faced opposition from some New York politicians, who were unhappy with the tax incentives Amazon was promised.

 (Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)

Unions had also protested Amazon's arrival, and they and supporters hailed their ability to beat back a corporate giant.

“Ultimately, Queens is not for sale,” Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, said at a rally after the announcement.

The company had refused to unionize the workforce, and the unions opposed the big tax breaks for one of the world's most valuable company and the world's richest man.

Critics said Amazon refused to work with local leaders to assuage their issues.

“Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers, Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers — that’s not what a responsible business would do,” said Chelsea Connor, spokeswoman for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. 

More: Live From Albany: Weigh in on Amazon's decision to drop NYC HQ

More: Do New Yorkers support $3 billion for Amazon? Poll has interesting findings

View from Queens

Long Island City, overlooking the Manhattan skyline, is a mix of glass high-rise buildings, industrial businesses and new construction interspersed with chic coffee shops.

On Thursday, reaction was mixed to Amazon's decision. After the announcement in November, rents were on the rise and vacant apartments were being quickly scooped up.

“It’s a bit cruel and inconsiderate to get people all stirred up,” said Miguelina Rodriguez, an urban studies professor at CUNY's LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.

“Landlords were practically doubling and tripling the rents in a matter of weeks in anticipation of Amazon's arrival.”

But others said they were pleased with Amazon's decision.

“I moved Long Island City three years ago because things were getting too expensive,” said Betsy Alwin, 45, an artist who was there Thursday for a conference.

“It’s good that Amazon listened to the people. I think it’s good that we make sure that large corporations aren’t just getting handouts unless people are really going to benefit.”

Around lunchtime at a busy Starbucks on Jackson Avenue, the main thoroughfare that runs through the area, it was business as usual as workers bundled beneath bubble coats, scarves, beanies and the occasional construction hat came in for a cup of coffee. 

Greg Biel, 64, who is a sales representative at a rubber supply company, said he couldn't understand why Amazon pulled out so quickly.

“I think it could have been great for the small businesses around here to see more people, more foot traffic,” he said.

Includes reporting by USA Today's Dalvin Brown.

Full Amazon statement

Here's Amazon's full statement:

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens.

For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term.

While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, 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 with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.

We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion—we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture—and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents.

There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.

We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process.

Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can’t speak positively enough about all their efforts.

The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult.

We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.

Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.”

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Amazon HQ2 explained: What to know about the Long Island City location | amNewYork

Amazon yanks NYC HQ2: What’s next for the online giant?

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Amazon’s new headquarters in Long Island City is expected to create 25,000 new high-paying jobs. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Call it Amazon HQ2 . . . divided by two? The online retail giant plans to split its second U.S. headquarters between Long Island City, Queens and Arlington, Virginia.

The new campuses are each expected to generate 25,000 jobs and hiring is set to begin in 2019.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said during the announcement on Nov. 13. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come.”

The decision comes about a year after Amazon announced it was on the hunt for a location to set up a second headquarters. Initially Amazon, which is based in Seattle, had said it would choose one location that would staff up to 50,000 employees.

Amazon received 238 bids from cities across the country vying to expand their presence in the lucrative tech industry. The online retailer had narrowed the list of finalists down to 20, including New York City, in January.

The selection of Long Island City, however, has garnered both praise and criticism from local politicians and residents, particularly with regard to the generous tax breaks the company received in the deal.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Dec. 5 found that while a majority of New York City residents support Amazon’s LIC HQ2 (57-26), New Yorkers are decidedly split (46-44) over the tax breaks the state offered.

Learn more about what Amazon plans to do, what the impact on Long Island City could be, how local politicians are reacting to the announcement and more.

Say what? Why Amazon split its second headquarters

Amazon said it chose to divide its second headquarters between two locations because it would greatly expand the company’s ability to recruit top talent while lessening the potential negative impacts that a 50,000-person campus could have on congestion and cost-of-living increases.

Amazon announced plans to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

Amazon enticed by diversity, cultural institutions and . . . breweries

The campus will be located along Long Island City’s waterfront, across the East River from Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood. A map of the campus shows Amazon’s headquarters is expected to be built east of Vernon Boulevard between 44th and 46th avenues.

Although no specific addresses were released, Amazon has agreed to open a 4-million-square foot energy-efficient office space within 10 years. The campus will expand to between 6 and 8 million square feet within 15 years, according to documents related to the deal with the city and state.

In its announcement, Amazon highlighted the neighborhood’s diverse community, cultural institutions, schools, housing options, restaurants and bars, greenspaces and even its breweries as factors that drew the company to the area.

Amazon promised 50,000 jobs but LIC only gets half

By essentially creating three headquarters in its decision to split HQ2 resources, Amazon’s promise of delivering 50,000 jobs to the winning location has been cut in half.

When it opens, the headquarters in Long Island City will house 25,000 employees with an average wage upward of $150,000 a year.

Amazon looks to employ up to 40,000 people in its LIC headquarters once the company expands to 8 million square feet of office space, according to documents related to the deal.

Amazon already counts greater New York City and Washington, D.C., among its biggest tech employee bases, after Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 2017, the online retailer announced it would create 2,000 jobs while opening a hub on Manhattan’s West Side and add another 2,250 employees to its fulfillment center in Staten Island. At the time, Amazon employed more than 1,800 people at various locations in the city.

With more than 610,000 workers worldwide, Amazon is already one of the biggest employers in the United States and the world’s third-most valuable company, behind Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Amazon’s planned HQ2 has been met with opposition from New Yorkers and elected officials. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

Are NYC and NYS throwing money at Amazon in this deal?

Amazon is poised to receive New York State’s largest economic development incentive package ever, with up to $1.2 billion in tax credits on 25,000 jobs over 10 years, plus a one-time grant of $325 million for office space.

Overall, the company stands to receive at least $2.8 billion in incentives from the state and city. If Amazon surpasses its goal of 25,000 workers in Long Island City, it could receive additional state tax breaks.

The retailer could also apply for other tax incentives, including the city’s Relocation and Employment Assistance Program, which offers annual tax breaks of $3,000 per job, potentially worth $900 million over 12 years for Amazon.

On the flip side, Amazon will invest $2.5 billion in the LIC HQ2 and has projected it could generate $10 billion in tax revenue for New York over the next 20 years.

When a massive company moves to town

While residents, community advocates and local officials have voiced concerns about the strain that an Amazon HQ could place on Long Island City’s transit infrastructure and housing market, the company has promised to deliver some services and amenities to the community.

Amazon said it would donate a site to build a new primary or intermediate public school. The company also plans to set aside space on its campus for a tech startup incubator and promised investments for new green spaces and infrastructure upgrades in the area — though the initial announcement was light on specific details.

At a news conference announcing the Amazon deal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio said the school would serve 600 students and the green space would be in the form of a 3.5-acre waterfront esplanade and park.

There also will be “a lot of efforts” to help residents at the Queensbridge Houses, a large public housing development in the neighborhood, de Blasio said.

Still, some community stakeholders have expressed reservations about how Amazon might impact an already gentrifying neighborhood, especially when it comes to affordable housing.

Giselle Routhier, policy director at the Coalition for the Homeless, raised concerns about the level of homelessness in the city.

“We get why Amazon would want to come here, but the billions of dollars New York is about to give them are precious public resources that now cannot be invested in housing, schools, or fixing the MTA,” she said. “Amazon’s expansion will certainly boost our economy, and that’s great – but we shouldn’t be paying the rent for trillion-dollar corporations when so many families can’t pay theirs.”

Routhier suggested the city and state need to invest in subsidized housing for the homeless population, which she said will “undoubtedly” grow as Amazon’s arrival drives up Long Island City’s rent.

The Court Square No. 7 train station, seen here on Tuesday, is expected to become more congested once Amazon opens its new headquarters in Long Island City.   Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

For real, what do the city and state plan to do about transit?

Long Island City was chosen, in part, because of its access to eight subway lines, 13 bus lines, Citi Bike service and an NYC Ferry landing as well as its proximity to Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, according to Amazon.

It’s no secret that the subway system is in dire need of infrastructure improvements and skeptics of the Amazon HQ2 plans were quick to raise concerns about the impact a deluge of new workers would have on the crumbling system.

De Blasio has sought to allay some of those fears.

“Amazon, in its initial build-out, will be on top of four existing subway lines,” the mayor said on Nov. 13. “Short term, the presence of Amazon in their initial build-out won’t be a huge impact because of those four subway lines.”

Queens State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who opposes the Amazon deal, was appalled that Cuomo and de Blasio courted the online retailer with billions in subsidies while they continued to squabble over who should fund the MTA’s plan to fix the subway system.

“We can’t even find two nickels to rub together to make the trains run on time and yet we magically found these subsidies to give away to the biggest corporation in the world,” said Gianaris.

De Blasio also admitted the need for transportation improvements before Amazon’s debut.

“Ultimately, we have to invest more in mass transit in Long Island City,” he said on Nov. 13. “I will look at every kind of option.”

One way the city plans to invest in transit around Long Island City is through a mechanism called Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT. Amazon would give about half of what it would pay in property taxes to the state, which would deposit the money into an infrastructure fund.

Under the Amazon deal, however, a portion of the PILOT payment won’t be directed into the infrastructure fund for 15 years, according to the state.

Additionally, the city will be in charge of dispersing the funds to various projects, but since the subway system is owned by the state it could be bypassed all together. More ly, the city could spend the money on street improvements and redesigns, NYC Ferry service and the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar project.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has called on Amazon to help fund the BQX streetcar project, which would have a stop in Long Island City.

Stephanie Baez, a spokeswoman at the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said the allocation of funds would be the residents’ priorities.

Just HQ2, politicians are split on Amazon

Depending on whom you ask, it appears Amazon is either the best thing to happen to Queens in decades or a potential nightmare for the community.

Cuomo called the Amazon deal the “largest economic development initiative” the city and state have ever undertaken. The governor called Long Island City the “perfect location” and lauded the projected job creation.

De Blasio, who often does not see eye-to-eye with Cuomo on city matters, echoed the governor’s sentiments, saying Amazon’s campus “consolidates Queens as a great economic capital.”

Katz also welcomed Amazon to Long Island City.

“With its organic growth, wealth of local talent and inherent global assets to foster innovation, Queens offers a dynamic mixed-use community where workers can live, ideas can synergize, and businesses can flourish,” she said in an emailed statement.

However, not all of the city’s elected officials agree. Some council members who represent the area blasted the city and state for a lack of transparency in the decision-making process.

Speaker Corey Johnson said it was “extremely troubling” that the City Council was not included in the negotiations.

Several rallies organized by elected officials and community advocate groups have been held in an effort to get Cuomo and de Blasio to go back to the drawing board with Amazon.

“Let’s not play stupid. This deal was coming, but now they want to make it seem it was so good for our community,” said Assemb-elect Catalina Cruz. “Amazon is not welcome here today, is not welcome here tomorrow, is not welcome here ever.”

Protesters also disrupted a City Council hearing – the first of three planned to discuss the Amazon deal – on Wednesday, Dec. 12. The group chanted “G.T.F.O., Amazon has got to go,” before council members finished their opening statements. 

The hearing, titled “Exposing the Closed-Door Process,” explored how state and city officials wooed Amazon to the city – a process that many have criticized for its lack of transparency.

What’s next?

Amazon could begin construction within a year, according to documents related to the deal, although final development plans still need to be approved and leases have to be signed.

The company also will have to go through a state environment review process and engage the community in finalizing plans for the campus as well as detail investments in the community’s infrastructure and greenspaces.

With Reuters, Vincent Barone, Nicole Brown and James T. Madore

Источник: https://www.amny.com/news/amazon-long-island-city-1-23378324/

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