Amazon said Thursday it’s abandoning plans for a second headquarters in New York City, a stunning retreat after state and local leaders strongly opposed providing the company with roughly $3 billion in tax incentives.
Amazon chose the New York location after a North America-wide search for a place to put its new headquarters — dubbed HQ2 — with the support of both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. But the deal soon ran into a political buzzsaw as a cacophony of elected officials, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), opposed the idea of giving steep tax incentives to one of the nation’s biggest companies owned by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person.
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“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,” the company said in a statement.
Amazon does not intend to pick an alternative site. Instead, the company said it would proceed with previously announced outposts in Virginia and Tennessee, and expand its 17 other offices across the U.S. and Canada.
Long Island City in Queens was slated to receive 25,000 jobs as part of the deal, including high-paying technology and engineering positions that economic developers covet. The company planned to spend $2.5 billion building new offices. In all, New York was projected to receive an estimated $27.5 billion in tax revenue over the next 25 years.
But Amazon’s critics argue the company made little effort to build relationships with the local community and labor groups. It required officials to sign non-disclosure agreements over the negotiations, and lined up little community support for the deal prior to its announcement in November.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who represents Long Island City and emerged as one of the deal’s most outspoken opponents, said the fault for the demise of the Amazon deal lies entirely with Amazon.
“Amazon to the end refused to engage in a real conversation with the community they were trying to profoundly change,” he told POLITICO. “Rather than do that, they decided to leave, which shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event.”
Amazon’s decision to abandon the New York project followed a yearlong search for cities to house its second headquarters. The e-commerce giant announced a Hunger Games-style competition in September 2017 that asked cities to submit troves of data and information about themselves for a chance to receive 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment.
The company was looking for new digs that offered ample land for redevelopment, robust local transit options, accessible international airports, a diverse population and a highly educated workforce.
Amazon received 238 bids from across the U.S., Mexico and Canada before narrowing the pool down to 20 finalists in January 2018. Then in November, Amazon declared it would split the second headquarters between New York and Crystal City in Northern Virginia — locations that were long considered frontrunners.