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Amazon said to be reconsidering New York City headquarters

Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 13:15:41-05

Amazon may not deliver a new headquarters to New York City after all.

Amazon is said to be reconsidering its plans to open up a new campus in New York City’s Long Island City neighborhood after facing backlash from local residents, according to a Washington Post report on Friday.

The report, which cited unnamed sources, said Amazon executives have had discussions recently to rethink the company’s plans for New York and consider alternatives.

Reps for Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“There have been rumblings about this just in the last couple of days,” Carlo Scissura, president and CEO, New York Building Congress, told CNN Business on Friday. “People are starting to say this is what we’re hearing, people are getting worried.”

Amazon selected New York City and Northern Virginia in November to split duty as its second headquarters (nicknamed HQ2) after a year-long search. Each city was expected to have more than 25,000 workers over time.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo framed the original announcement as a tremendous job creation opportunity for the entire New York region. It also ignited a frenzy over real estate in both cities.

But critics objected to the massive subsidies New York offered to lure the tech behemoth.

New York State will grant $1.525 billion in incentives contingent on the company creating 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000. Protestors took to the streets in Long Island City, criticizing the deal for being bad for taxpayers and the neighborhood.

Those critics got new hope earlier this week when New York State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, who is a vocal critic of HQ2, was recommended to serve on the Public Authorities Control Board.

The relatively unknown board weighs in on any financing and land use deals that run through public authorities, which primarily include economic development projects. It’s had some success in the past blocking major projects.

Amazon, for its part, has tried to win over its future neighbors. Last month, it ran a print advertisement in some of New York’s biggest daily newspapers, wishing residents a happy New Year and pledging to work with and listen to the community.

Among other things, Amazon said it would hire from “across the five boroughs,” offer career training for local residents and bring in over $27 billion in state and local tax revenue that can help “improve subways and buses.”

If the deal does fall through, some fear it could have broader repercussions on New York’s ability to attract top corporations. “It’s setting a bad precedent,” Scissura says. “This is getting the business community very worried about the future of New York. “