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By David K. Li
Amazon announced Thursday that it is backing out of plans to open a new headquarters in New York City, blaming local politicians who “had opposed our presence and will not work with us.”
The retail giant announced in December it would build a campus in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens for 25,000 employees, fueled by $3 billion in state and city incentives to Amazon.
“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” the company statement said. “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 put the blame for its decision squarely on the shoulders of local politicians who have objected to the development and been critical of city and state leaders who offered Amazon huge tax subsidies. Many local activists have said the project will worsen congestion in the area and lead to gentrification and higher housing prices.
“While polls show that 70 percent 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 statement said.
“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion — we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture — and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents.”
In announcing that it was coming to Queens last year, Amazon also said it was was building hubs in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and now it will apparently focus its growth there. Amazon said it has no plans to replace the now-defunct New York project.
“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,” according to the statement.
Earlier this week, Sienna College released findings of a poll that showed New Yorkers approved of the Amazon deal by a margin of 56 percent to 36 percent.
Cynthia Nixon, who ran unsuccessfully against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in last year’s Democratic primary, hailed Amazon’s stunning reversal.
“Amen,” the actress-turned-politician tweeted. “The fight against Amazon laid bare their union-busting, corporate welfare, ICE-abetting practices and shows why we need to break up monopolies like Amazon.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.