NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Officials from Seattle who lived through the impact of a new Amazon headquarters were in midtown Monday to clue New Yorkers in on the good, the bad and the ugly.
As part of the deal, the retail giant has promised 40,000 new jobs at a median annual income of $150,000, reports CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.
“What we see is more people who are earning additional dollars but are pushing our community members of color and those with the lowest income out of Seattle,” said Teresa Mosqueda, a Seattle city council member.
Mosqueda says she’s seen the real impact of Amazon’s promises. At a Midtown Manhattan forum called “What’s Wrong With Amazon,” she shared staggering numbers that have materialized since Amazon consolidated there in 2012.
“We in Seattle were about 35 percent above the national average in terms of housing costs, now, just last year we were at 113 percent,” she said.
Web Extra: Read The Complete Amazon Agreement (.pdf)
There’s now primarily luxury housing for high income earners. Many of the middle and low income families pushed out of town now have a 2- to 4-hour commute to work.
Amazon proposed a street car to shuttle the influx of new people through the city, but the street car that was built to go to South Street Union is largely considered to be a boondoggle.
Seattle council member Lisa Herbold says the failed project just put a strain on city transportation funds, while other forms of transit in the city had the highest rate of increased ridership in the nation.
As a result, she says Seattle infrastructure is in shambles and homelessness at an all-time high.
“We know that you guys have the leverage, we know that you have the opportunity that Seattle didn’t,” said Herbold.
The Seattle team shared their cautionary tale with city council Speaker Corey Johnson, State Comptroller Scott Stringer and other city leaders so they’ll amend the plan in place to make more stringent demands for New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the deal in November, giving Amazon nearly $3 billion in various tax breaks in exchange for more than 25,000 jobs and $27.5 billion in new state and city revenue.
As the Amazon plan is finalized over the coming months, it remains to be seen what changes if any will be made as a result of the concerns from city officials, residents, and now the officials from Seattle.
Seattle has seen an increase of 1,000 new residents per week since Amazon came.
Amazon issued a statement Monday saying it was “engaging in a long-term listening and engagement process to better understand the community’s needs” in response to Monday’s forum.
“We’re committed to being a great neighbor – and ensuring our new headquarters is a win for all New Yorkers,” it read. “Amazon makes substantial positive contributions to the economy, the communities where we operate, and to the lives and careers of our employees. We have created more than 250,000 full-time, full benefit jobs across the U.S. that now have a minimum $15 an hour pay and we have invested more than $160 billion in the U.S. economy since 2011.”
Over the weekend, Amazon posted a letter online wishing New Yorkers a happy New York and hoping for a “long and mutually beneficial partnership.”