Amazon suddenly announced Thursday it's no longer moving forward with its new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.
The company released a statement saying:
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.
Amazon said its plan would bring 25,000 jobs to Long Island City and $2.5 billion in investment. And Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio both enthusiastically encouraged the development, reportedly offering up to $3 billion in tax incentives to the tech company.
But the New Yorkers who have been pushing back against the so-called HQ2 since it was announced last year are likely thrilled about today's about-face.
“When we talk about bringing jobs to the community, we need to dig deep,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted days after the deal was announced. “Has the company promised to hire in the existing community? What's the quality of jobs + how many are promised? Are these jobs low-wage or high wage? Are there benefits? Can people collectively bargain?”
When we talk about bringing jobs to the community, we need to dig deep:
- Has the company promised to hire in the existing community?
- What’s the quality of jobs + how many are promised? Are these jobs low-wage or high wage? Are there benefits? Can people collectively bargain?
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 13, 2018
Democratic New York Senator Michael Gianaris, whose district included the area where the new headquarters was proposed, penned an editorial inUSA Today opposing it, pointing out the many other needs for the money coming from those massive tax incentives.
"Our money is better spent investing directly in our future: functioning mass transit, thriving schools, affordable housing," he wrote. "We should not need to pay massive corporations to bring their largess to our communities-let us build that future ourselves."
The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union pointed to the tax breaks as well when they protested the move at New York City Hall earlier this year.
"Amazon, one of the wealthiest and largest companies in history, needs the city more than the city needs Amazon-plain and simple. If Amazon wants to come here they can afford to do so on their own," Stuart Appelbaum, the union's president said in a statement. "RWDSU is deeply concerned about using tax payer subsidies for a company run by the richest man on earth to set up shop in our city, especially when it’s something they want to do and can do on their own anyway. Tax payers shouldn’t be on the hook to help Amazon be profitable-it’s a massively profitable private business."
Those likely not excited about today's news include those in the Long Island City real estate business. Housing costs ballooned as soon as Amazon made their announcement.
“There is a larger group of people, business owners and parents groups who are excited about Amazon,” Eric Benaim, the founder of Modern Spaces, a brokerage which represents several developers in Long Island City, told the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper ran a poll this week from Siena College Research Institute which found 56% of voters statewide supported the Amazon project. “Do they [opponents] want to be known as the people who lost 25,000 jobs for New York City?"
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