Amazon HQ2 NYC dropped amid local political opposition


Just like a bad break up, we point out the flaws that Amazon saw in your city’s bid for their second headquarters.

ALBANY, New York – In a stunning development, Amazon said Thursday it will no longer pursue a second headquarters in New York City amid local political opposition.

The change of plans by the world’s largest online retailer comes after reports last week that Amazon was re-evaluating 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.


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Amazon HQ2 competition won’t reopen

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.”

More on the HQ2 search: Why Amazon didn’t pick your city for its second headquarters

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 local opposition was too much of an obstacle for the Queens project to continue.

“While polls show that 70 percent 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,” the company said.

How opposition built up

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

They expressed concern that public services in the city – subways, schools and neighborhoods – would be overtaken by Amazon.

Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, has 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 had to approve at least some of the public aid for the project.

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo put the blame squarely on the Senate for potentially scuttling the deal.

“It is the largest economic development transaction in the history of the state of New York,” Cuomo said last week. “And I understand politics very well. But I’ve never seen a more absurd situation where political pandering and obvious pandering so defeats a bonafide economic development project.”


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Dissenters applaud Amazon’s decision

Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio helped broker the deal and warned that local opposition could scuttle the arrangement.

“Things like this Amazon deal, it’s not just the 25,000 to 40,000 jobs, which is amazing unto itself and we need,” de Blasio said last week. “It’s also revenue that allows us to do the kinds of things that create more balance and more justice.”

Cuomo’s office said the $3 billion in public subsidies would be small compared to the nearly $30 billion in economic activity and jobs the company would bring to the city and metropolitan area.

But unions had also protested against Amazon’s arrival.

The company has refused to unionize its workforce, and the unions opposed the big tax breaks for the world’s most valuable company and the world’s richest man.

“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.

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