NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The controversial Amazon deal is dead, taking with it the 25,000 jobs promised for its proposed headquarters in Long Island City.
The internet giant issued a statement on Thursday saying it will not pursue a second headquarters in Long Island City, and has no plans to look elsewhere.
“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,” read the statement. “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 deal was also expected to provide $30 billion in tax revenue after nearly $3 billion in promised tax breaks to one of world’s richest, most powerful companies. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the development could help offset funding needed to fix the city’s ailing transit system.
In November, Amazon chose the Long Island City section of Queens for one of two new headquarters, with the other in northern Virginia. The company had planned to spend about $2.5 billion building the New York office.
The reaction from lawmakers came fast and furious.
Cuomo, the top evangelizing champion of bringing Amazon to New York City, issued a statement condemning the deal’s critics.
“We competed in and won the most hotly contested national economic development competition in the United States,” Cuomo said. “However, a small group (of) politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state.
“The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage,” the governor added. “They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement chastising Amazon for not being “tough” enough to stand up to the deal’s criticism, adding, “We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”
De Blasio took another opportunity to blame the retail giant during an appearance at Harvard University.
“The company had the power to make the decision, not the politicians,” he said. “I don’t know how a company up and leaves without even an attempt to work out their concerns.”
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the next big company that attempts to come to the Big Apple better be ready to work with all parties involved.
“I look forward to working with companies that understand that if you’re willing to engage with New Yorkers and work through challenging issues New York City is the world’s best place to do business,” Johnson said. “I hope this is the start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent. I know I’d choose mass transit over helipads any day.”
Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who ended up strongly against the deal after once signing a letter urging Amazon to come to New York, said he was thrilled by Thursday’s news.
“When our community fights together, anything is possible, even when we’re up against the biggest corporation in the world. I am proud that we fought for our values, which is a fight for working families, immigrants, and organized labor,” Van Bramer said in a statement. ”Defeating an anti-union corporation that mistreats workers and assists ICE in terrorizing immigrant communities is a victory. Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city and state forever.”
Queens Lawmakers React To News Amazon Deal Is Dead
On Twitter, newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez credited “dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors” for defeating “Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world. https://t.co/nyvm5vtH9k
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 14, 2019
“Amazon is paying $0 in taxes on $11+ billion in profit,” she later tweeted. “$0 for schools. $0 for firefighters. $0 for infrastructure. $0 for research and healthcare. Why should corporations that contribute nothing to the pot be in a position to take billions from the public?”
Prominent Republicans were clearly not happy with Amazon’s decision.
Long Island Rep. Peter King took to Twitter, writing, “This is one time I agree with @NYCMayor de Blasio and @NYGovCuomo. Loss of @Amazon is terrible for New York. All because progressives put sanctimony and ideological purity before workers and taxpayers. Sad day for New York.”
This is one time I agree with @NYCMayor de Blasio and @NYGovCuomo. Loss of @Amazon is terrible for New York. All because progressives put sanctimony and ideological purity before workers and taxpayers. Sad day for New York.
— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) February 14, 2019
Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and Brooklyn, agreed.
“Nice going anti-capitalists. Taxpayers wanted a BETTER deal, not to KILL the deal,” Malliotakis said. “Those elected officials who fought Amazon tooth and nail without flexibility just lost more than 25,000 good paying jobs for their constituents and the people of New York City.”
Queens state Sen. Michael Gianaris, a vocal opponent who had said the deal should die, was nominated by Senate Democrats to head a state board that has the power to kill the project.
Cuomo lured Amazon to Long Island City with around $3 billion in tax breaks. He had furiously defended the tax breaks as justified to gain Amazon’s 25,000 jobs. The governor said he believed that translated into $30 billion in revenue from Amazon in exchange for $3 billion in incentives.
“The State Senate is trying to stop Amazon from coming to Queens. Amazon is the largest economic development program that the state has ever won. It was a national competition where states all across the nation were vying for Amazon. There’s not business that brings 25,000 jobs anymore, they don’t exist,” Cuomo said recently. “If Amazon does not come to New York, it’s because of the political opposition. Because it is so ironic for Amazon after they spent one year with everyone seducing them and everyone courting them… we win and then there’s political opposition.”
Van Bramer earlier took de Blasio and Cuomo to task for how they handled the Amazon overture.
“What the mayor and governor did here was negotiate in secret a really bad deal for New York,” Van Bramer said.
At issue for Van Bramer and those who oppose the deal was the $2.8 billion incentive package offered to Amazon to come to Long Island City.
“This deal also bypassed the City Council and community review process. None of those things were acceptable,” Van Bramer said.
Expert: Amazon’s Reversal On NYC HQ Plans ‘An Enormous Surprise’
Back in December, protesters shouted out at the first public oversight hearing where Amazon executives were grilled.
“Amazon won’t receive any incentives until we create jobs and occupy buildings here,” Amazon’s Brian Huseman said at that hearing.
Cuomo called state Senate opposition to the deal “governmental malpractice.”
“And if they stop Amazon from coming to New York, they’re going to have the people of New York state to explain it to them. It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy… you’re not there to play politics, you’re there to do what’s right for the people of the state of New York, and what they did here was wrong,” Cuomo said.
Gianaris, who represents Long Island City where Amazon wanted to build a new campus, wanted the deal nixed.
“Some people say that money only goes if jobs are created, but that’s not entirely true. Half a billion dollars of that is a cash grant to them outright. You’re telling me we couldn’t use $500 million to help the subway system right now?” Gianaris said in an interview on CBSN New York.
“I definitely think this deal should be stopped,” he said. “The deal that was constructed is so bad I do not believe it can form the basis of a negotiation.”
So what now for the future of Long Island City?
“Everyone in New York City is a loser now, because we lost these good paying jobs and unfortunately our reputation as someone who is welcoming of business as well,” Malliotakis said.
Amazon says for now, they’re not searching for a new headquarters location. On Thursday, the Chicago mayor and Illinois governor sent a letter to Amazon saying the company is still welcome in the Windy City.