Amazon New York headquarters, HQ2 could leave New York before it ever arrives.
Amazon’s proposed 25,000-employee office in Queens, New York, may not go forward after all, according to a report from The Washington Post. Citing local opposition from activist groups and politicians, two sources tell the Post that the company is reexamining the deal and mulling over whether to move its planned second headquarters elsewhere. Amazon has not yet leased or purchased office space in the Long Island City area where it’s scheduled to expand upon an existing satellite office, which may make the matter a little easier.
Additionally, in Virginia, where Amazon announced its other 25,000-employee expansion in the Crystal City suburb in Arlington, legislators spent a mere nine minutes debating a $750 million incentive package for Amazon late last month. In New York, approval isn’t expected until 2020 at the earliest, according to the Post. That makes the idea of taking its planned office expansion to another state all the more possible, given that nothing in New York has been set in stone.
Following a lengthy and controversial search that had municipalities competing for its attention, Amazon first announced that its second headquarters, the first being in Seattle, would be split between New York and Virginia in November of last year. But while Virginia seemed to embrace the notion of becoming a second home for Amazon, New York residents and politicians, including US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, expressed concern ranging from skepticism to flat-out outrage at the prospect of giving one of the world’s most valuable companies substantial tax breaks to move into the gentrifying and fast-crowding borough of Queens.
From the moment it was announced, plans to fight it sprung into action from protestors and local legislators. Now, with state Sen. Michael N. Gianaris (D-Queens) nominated to the Public Authorities Control Board, the Post notes that he’s in position to veto the deal, so long as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), who worked closely with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to broker the Amazon deal outside the limelight, doesn’t block his confirmation.
Amazon certainly has plenty of other options on the table, considering its months-long search resulted in numerous proposals from cities around the country. And proponents of the Amazon deal in Queens often say that another corporation will fill the void if Amazon pulls out, making no difference to the eventual effect on Long Island City. But right now, it’s not clear whether Amazon is serious about taking its new headquarters to another state. The company has hired both lobbying and public relations firms in New York to manage its relationship with the community and local politicians.
“We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors — small business owners, educators, and community leaders,” an Amazon spokesperson told the Post. “Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”