Amazon Pulls Out of NYC HQ2

John Hill
14. February 2019
WXY's pre-Amazon masterplan for Anable Basin, the area where Amazon was planning to build one of its HQ2s — until today.

Thursday, Valentine's Day, Amazon broke up with New York City, saying that it is canceling plans to build a corporate headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan.

The news comes exactly three months and one day after its November 2018 announcement that it would be creating not one, but two HQ2s: one in New York City and one in Arlington, Virginia (plus a new "Center of Excellence" in Nashville, Tennessee). Amazon's reasons for leaving NYC were spelled out in a statement on the company's blog: "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."

The original NYC HQ2 deal was brokered by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Governor Mario Cuomo, who together would have given Amazon around $3 billion in incentives, in exchange for Amazon's creation of 25,000 jobs. Opponents of the deal, obviously not mentioned in today's statement from Amazon (it does praise de Blasio and Cuomo), include City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer and State Senator Michael Gianaris, whose districts include Long Island City. The latter is quoted in today's New York Times: "Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves. The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions."

Will Amazon, which has 5,000 employees in NYC already, find another spot for this half of its HQ2? Nope. Instead Amazon said, "We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We 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."

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