Political backlash may kill off Amazon's NYC headquarters deal
Amazon is said to be reconsidering its plans to open up a new headquarters in New York City's Long Island City neighborhood after facing a backlash from politicians and local residents,
According to a Washington Post report on Friday that cited unnamed sources, Amazon executives have been in discussions recently and are rethinking their plans to open up a new campus in New York City's Long Island City neighborhood.
“The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia and Nashville have been so welcoming,” an anonymous source familiar with internal discussions told the newspaper, reports the NY Daily Times.
The growing skyline of Long Island City, Queens, one of New York City's fastest-growing neighborhoods, as seen in 2015. King of Hearts
Amazon denies the story
"We're focused on engaging with our new neighbors — small business owners, educators, and community leaders," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. "Whether it's building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be."
Even the NY Daily News is reporting that Amazon has indicated that the deal was still on track. The Daily News received the same email statement sent from Amazon spokeswoman Katie Loughnane that went to CNN,
People play soccer at Long Bridge Park in the Crystal City area, one of two locations chosen by Amazon for a new headquarters MARK WILSON, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
In November, Amazon announced it was expanding into Long Island City, Queens, New York, and Crystal City, in Arlington, Virginia, promising to bring 25,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in investment to each spot. However, in the New York agreement, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, Amazon got quite a deal.
It's interesting to note that when Amazon first announced that New York City had made it to the final list of prospective cities, the New York Times reported that critics put out warnings against using public money to help one of the most valuable companies in the world, and of the potential for higher housing costs and traffic problems.
Joint statement from SenGianaris & I regarding Amazon HQ2 LIC deal: Ipj9L2kMJW— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) November 11, 2018
In the New York deal, Amazon will get up to $1.2 billion in a refundable tax credit, tied to the creation of jobs, and a $325 million cash development grant. Amazon will also be applying for existing tax incentives, likely making the total subsidies close to $2 billion.
The Amazon deal has continued to face a thick wall of criticism, and a number of politicians have jumped on board, including New York state Senator Michael Gianaris. Strangely enough, Gianaris had previously signed a letter asking the company to build its headquarters in New York.
Now he has been recommended to serve on the Public Authorities Control Board, which has veto power over a $500 million construction grant that was part of the construction deal with Amazon. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, temporary president and majority leader of the New York State Senate, made the recommendation.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Pat Arnow (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Governor Cuomo raps Amazon Critics
Citing the Washington Post report on Amazon, Governor Cuomo accused the State Senate of “governmental malpractice” and pandering, accusing them of “trying to stop Amazon," reports the Associated Press.
"For the state Senate to oppose Amazon was governmental malpractice," Cuomo said. "And if they stop Amazon from coming to New York, they're going to have the people of New York State to explain it to. It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy."
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who campaigned against the subsidy package, was thrilled to hear the news. "I think it's really encouraging to show that government and all of us primarily have a responsibility to the communities that we directly impact," she told CNN. "When we don't consult with those communities, we absolutely need to reconsider those deals and that process."