Amazon Long Island City Location

Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Amazon HQ2 Is Coming To Queens, But Not Everyone Is Happy

November 13, 2018 - 3:55 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Amazon has selected Long Island City and Arlington, Virginia, as the two sites for its second headquarters, the online retail giant announced Tuesday morning.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “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 team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

New York is expected to get some 25,000 high-paying jobs out of the deal, with an average salary of $150,000, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday called it “the single biggest economic development deal in the history of New York City.”

"This was a long hard fought battle," de Blasio said, congratulating city and state negotiators on the deal.

A contest for the new headquarters started with 238 candidates last year, and all but Long Island City and Crystal City were cut. But some of the other contestant cities could receive major sites too, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Long Island City has a history of manufacturing but it has grown rapidly in recent years and is becoming an East Coast tech hub.

New York began wooing the online retail giant a year ago. 

Amazon will invest $2.5 billion in the jobs and buildings over 10 years, and the number of jobs could grow to over 40,000 over time.

According to Amazon’s press release, the company will receive “performance-based direct incentives of $1.525 billion based on the company creating 25,000 jobs in Long Island City.” This will include a refundable tax credit, through the state’s Excelsior Program, of up to $1.2 billion over the next 10 years.

Amazon will also see a cash grant of $325 million from Empire State Development, based on the square footage of buildings occupied in the next decade.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said estimated state and city tax revenues will stand at $27.5 billion. "This is a 9 to 1 ratio and the state doesn't believe we've ever done an investment program with that high a ratio," Cuomo said.

Amazon is also going to provide a site for a new public school in Long Island City and said it will invest in the community, generally speaking, Lamb reported.

James Patchett, the CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, is excited about the news.

"What we're offering to Amazon is the greatest, most diverse and most talented workforce in the entire world," Patchett said.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg also released a statement in support of the plan.

“Following the Great Recession, we set out to make New York City the technology capital of the world. Today's decision by Amazon to bring thousands of new jobs to Queens is the latest big step toward that goal.”

 But not everyone's laying out the welcome mat. In a statement, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state Senator Michael Gianaris say the deal gives massive corporate welfare from scarce state dollars to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world. 

“We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones,” the duo said.

They are among several local leaders rescinding their support of the headquarters, after signing a letter approving the deal months ago.

“I would never have signed on to anything like that knowing what I know today,” Van Bramer said.

The councilman has accused Amazon of duping New York into offering unprecedented amounts of tax dollars that could be used for subways, schools and healthcare.

“There was talk, in the last few days, about a billion dollar package,” Van Bramer said. “But, the truth is, when all is said and done, it's going to be closer to $3 billion dollars in subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthiest man in the world.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also criticized the deal tweeting, "Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here."

De Blasio said concerns about mass transit and other issues are well-founded and will be addressed.

Amazon rival Google responded to the announcement, saying it plans to add office space for more than 12,000 new workers in New York, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Opponents of Amazon’s second headquarters have planned a protest for Wednesday at Gordan Triangle, where the company plans to build.

Amazon said Arlington will also get 25,000 jobs and the company is also opening an operations hub in Nashville, creating 5,000 jobs.