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Cuomo Says Amazon’s Manhattan Announcement is “Crumbs From the Table Compared to a feast”

The sites that would have made up the General Project Plan as part of Amazon’s headquarters project. Amazon planned to build over the sites outlined in red. The site outlined in green, known as “block c” would have moved through the upzoning process despite not being part of Amazon’s headquarters. (Google Maps)

Dec. 9, 2019 By Allie Griffin

Less than a year after Amazon backed out of opening its second headquarters in Long Island City, the e-commerce giant announced it would open a new office in New York City — but this time in Manhattan and with far fewer jobs.

Amazon has signed a lease for 335,000 square feet in Hudson Yards on the borough’s west side. The new office will employ 1,500 workers and will open in 2021.

The jobs created are a fraction of the 25,000 that Amazon’s headquarters, dubbed the HQ2, would have brought to Long Island City.

The Long Island City plan would have provided Amazon with nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies. The Manhattan deal comes with none.

The announcement, however, reignited the heated debate over the scuttled Amazon deal.

“Won’t you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway – *without* requiring the public to finance shady deals, helipad handouts for Jeff Bezos, & corporate giveaways,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez was one of the main opponents of Amazon coming to Long Island City, which lead to the company abandoning its Queens plan.

But Governor Andrew Cuomo, who spurned critics of the Long Island City deal, said that Amazon’s Hudson Yard’s announcement should not be seen as a great victory for New York nor Queens in particular.

“This is crumbs from the table compared to a feast,” Cuomo told the Associated Press. “We don’t have a problem bringing businesses to Manhattan but we have been trying for decades to get that Queens waterfront developed.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who has been at odds with Cuomo for some time, viewed Amazon’s latest announcement as a win for New Yorkers.

“Amazon is coming to New York, just as they always planned,” Gianaris said in a statement. “Fortunately, we dodged a $3 billion bullet by not agreeing to their subsidy shakedown earlier this year.”

But Justin Potter, a Long Island City resident who will be challenging Gianaris in the Democratic primary next year, was critical of Gianaris.

Potter tweeted “Do you want a representative who recognizes that 1,500 jobs in Manhattan is not the same as 25,000 jobs in Queens?”

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36 Comments

Gardens Watcher

No, Suckafree, I’m not a real estate agent, not a GOP member and I don’t work for any politician either. But I do live here and own in Queens, and I pay property taxes, plus and state and local income taxes. Doesn’t sound like you do.

What jails, you ask? If you lived in Queens, or anywhere in NYC, you would have heard about the FACT that the NYC City Council recently voted to shut down Rikers Island and build new community jails in 4 of our 5 boroughs at an estimated cost to the local taxpayers of $11 Billion dollars. Who do you think is going to pay for that?

I have debated politely. At times it feels like whack-a-mole. This was a lost opportunity for Queens, not some online game.

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Suckafree

IT was I, who informed you of Cornell on Roosevelt Island and other similar initiatives. What part of Queens is not fit for high tech campuses do you not understand? It’s like arguing repeatedly like a broken record if Ford could open an auto plant in Harlem, Brooklyn Naval yards, etc. What part do you not understand?

You read and take my arguments that high tech is and has been already here but you’re fixated with Amazon HQ like someone fixated with a Sports Stadium built for some baseball or football team. Pride for Western Queens? Lord have mercy. It’s like debating a brick.

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Suckafree

Garden Watcher, Apparently you are not working in the high tech industry. Google is self contained. Nearby restaurants hoping for lunch takeout like Wall St doesn’t exist. Why do you think NJ companies even had post offices in their buildings? So employees don’t have to leave. You don’t even know that a 3D printing startup was in LIC. It has nothing to do with high rises. That would of priced them out. A small all dev company opened up in LIC because it’s cheaper and they still were close to NYC and opened up a NYC office later on. The founder was interviewed on TV about Amazon HQ2 and he supported the bid because he thought he could be a vendor to Amazon. He didn’t realize he would of been priced out of the area eventually and Amazon like Google are very self contained. Ever heard of Amazon AWS? It was their own internal service which is now making them the market leader which they provide to many companies. Google and Microsoft have their own offering.

Google being in NYC has nothing to do with Amazon selecting Virginia. There’s a lot of articles of how Virginia outbid NYC and Amazon also explained why they selected Virginia.

Your ignorance, pettiness, and fixation with Western Queens being a high tech center is remarkably naive.

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Suckafree

Garden watcher,
What jails? You can’t even debate politely but asked others to debate politely. Yeah, it’s over so why be a sore loser and bitter crybaby? $34,000 tax payer dollars per job. You lost. Get over it. If you live in NYC and would of personally benefitted from Amazon HQ2 in Queens that’s might selfish of you. Are you a real estate agent? Lol.

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Gardens Watcher

Suckafree, Your repeated references to Google makes me wonder if Google was behind the anti-Amazon protest. They do compete for a similar talent pool. The anti-Bezos blowback certainly had a personal animus aspect to it, as was the ludicrous focus on the helipad. I also wonder if some of the complaints were from employees who didn’t want to leave Seattle and relocate to NYC.

Google chose Manhattan, not Queens, and that’s my main point: Queens lost out. Yes, Jet Blue moved their HQ to LIC, but they only took a few floors of an existing building and moved there from Forest Hills, Queens. They only have about 1,000 employees there. NY pols fought to keep them here as they should have (specifically former QB President, Helen Marshall), not fought against them. I’m glad they stayed, but the low-cost airline business is fickle and hardly holds the future potential of the tech industry.

NYC is continuing to build another major industry in addition to the existing ones like financial services, and that’s a good thing. The tech companies like Google are here because NYC has been successful in attracting a high-tech talent pool. Sure, they have their own cafeteria, but “self-contained?” Hardly. Manhattan has way more stuff to do after work: great restaurants, museums, Bway shows, clubs, etc., so no wonder Google and many other companies choose to be in Manhattan. But Queens? Hardly anything. Why do you think we’re part of the the Bridge and Tunnel crowd?

As for construction, LIC continues to build luxury apartments, like it or not. Other services and businesses have sprung up because of that development. Had HQ2 been approved, other start-up tech companies would have potentially opened in Queens to be near an Amazon campus. Maybe Queens would have attracted other things besides more luxury apartments. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

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Suckafree

Garden watcher,
This topic is bring discussed over different forums on the Net. One poster argued if Amazon went to a specific city, it doesn’t mean that city starts attracting other tech companies unlike Automobile subcontractors that might want to open nearby. Google is already in 111 8th Ave with little political heated commentary unlike in places like Seattle. I would argue these companies are self contained. Surrounding restaurants have not benefited from a Google provide free employee services such as an amazing cafeteria and health clubs.

I do agree the $9 billion bid offered by Virginia I posted was incorrect. I’m can’t find the article where I got that from.

My two premises is that Google, Jet Blue, and other companies have come to NYC or Queens and there was very little polarized discussions. Google has not attracted other tech company head quarters. Second, I don’t believe it’s wise for politicians to have to provide the most concessions mainly in the form of tax breaks or subsidies to have them build a notable presence in NYC or Queens. Amazon HQ2 was given sites in NYC but I guess Bezos and his executives wanted a helipad. If Amazon wanted to be here, they would have negotiated. They’re arrogant but they played it off in other articles that Virginia was the better bid and had better skilled workforce.

So what is the plan for jobs in Queens? Look around and there’s construction going on everywhere for hoe many years now? LIC already has small diverse companies opened up.

I don’t necessarily believe the jobs will materialize. Foxconn has won concessions and they simple set up a tiny sales office and never build out factories. This is the same vendor making Apple products in China. The founder’s response to overworked workers living in dorms committing suicide was that workers complain too much and he is very focused on automation so he can get rid of manufacturing jobs.

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Gardens Watcher

One final point, Suckafree: Amazon is LEASING 335,000 sq. feet of existing office space on Tenth Ave. in Manhattan. Good for NYC, but NO surprise they didn’t get a big tax incentive just for renovating an existing office space.

That’s a big difference from BUILDING a 6-8 million sq.ft. campus on the Queens waterfront. And also meant clearing out the crappy buildings that are there now. Companies historically have wanted to be in Manhattan because that’s where their employees want to work and live. It’s been much harder to entice them to build in Queens or any of the other boroughs.

That Amazon campus would have been an economic driver and point of pride for Queens, and it would have attracted other tech firms and formed a tech cluster area with Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island. Imagine that?

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Gardens Watcher

Suckafree, High-rise luxury buildings do not create tax revenues like high-paying jobs do — employees pay income taxes, they buy things and pay sales taxes,…That’s the big difference. It would have been a revolutionary change for western Queens, and would have brought in way more revenue for the city and the state in the long run. It remains to be seen what will happen to that area now. Go take a look what’s there now before it’s gone.

As for “corporate welfare,” remember that Amazon conducted a nationwide competition for a second headquarters, and it was essentially a closed bid process with a confidentiality agreement attached. No surprise then that NY would make an attractive offer with both state and city incentives, just as every other city was doing. The NY offer was more complex than Virginia’s, and there is a big difference between tax credits and cash grants. It’s over, and we lost out.

Good luck paying for those new jails, all $11 BILLION out of your tax dollars.

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Suckafree

Why do we need Queens to be a high tech center? Google bought 111 8th Ave building which is a telecom carrier hotel. Jet Blue is in Queens Borough Plaza. You didn’t address the issue of taxpayer subsidies for those jobs. One article noted each job would cost tax payer $34,000 per job. Roosevelt Island will have high tech engineering universities. Stanford University created Silicon Valley. Your premise is that cities need to compete with tax payer money for jobs. That’s not Capitalism but corporate welfare. I prefer our politicians not beg and throw my tax dollars for jobs.

Here’s Washington Post’s numbers:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-news/amazon-hq2-to-receive-more-than-28-billion-in-incentives-from-virginia-new-york-and-tennessee/2018/11/13/f3f73cf4-e757-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html

A big gap in the size of incentives promised by New York and Virginia also stirred concern in the Empire State — and quiet satisfaction in the Old Dominion — that Richmond had cut a better deal than Albany. In the largest single subsidy offered by each state, New York offered tax credits equal to $48,000 per new job, while Virginia agreed to workforce cash grants of $22,000 per job.”

Can you please explain this part which you choose not to answer?

Why are high rise luxury buildings less preferable to a corporate HQ with a helipad? Do you actually believe a 25,000 headcount HQ can be supported by the 7 train and employees commuting by car or Uber?

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Gardens Watcher

It was Gianaris & JVB who were the most upset they weren’t part of the original negotiations, leading public protests with bullhorns. They own this.

It’s not like Amazon didn’t expect some opposition, but Gianaris was going to block it in Albany, which was the last straw before Amazon pulled out.

He now calls it a “subsidy shakedown.” LOL. He was just mad he was shut out of the room.

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Gardens Watcher

Virginia is not “ponying up” $9 billion, Suckafree.

Per Wikipedia, “Virginia offered performance-based incentives worth $573 million, which included a workforce cash grant of up to $550 million, based on whether Amazon created 25,000 jobs. Arlington County would also give an additional $23 million in cash grants, to be disbursed over 15 years, contingent on the gradual increased revenue from a tax collected from the county’s hotel rooms.”

And as for affordable housing: Per recent WaPo article, Amazon has recently offered $20 million to the Arlington County Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

And they’re paying for bike lanes too 🙂

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Gardens Watcher

Exactly right, Suckafree. HQ2 would NOT have been another warehouse or fulfillment center. Queens already has a lot of those and will probably get more. Automation will eventually replace many of those jobs.

LIC used to have a lot of light manufacturing and printing binderies too. Most are gone now and so are those jobs.

HQ2 would have put Queens on the map as a tech center, and more than just a home for warehouses and back offices. And the waterfront would have been known for more than what it is there now: a glut of luxury apartments.

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Gardens Watcher

Posters should be able to debate the issues and comment on our electeds’ actions and public statements, not be tagged as haters, easy marks, fools, etc.

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Gardens Watcher

The Anable Basin will be developed, so there will be ongoing construction. That is a given. If you think that’s disruptive, it will pale in comparison to whatever happens to Sunnyside Yards.

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Suckafree

Exactly. Those high paying jobs will be reserved for marketing, sales, executives that will move, software developers, and other white collar types. If you have a graduate degree in Artificial Intelligence, you probably get a job. We already have enough construction going on. Amazon has a fulfillment center already on Staten Island and will open another one in Queens.

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Suckafree

With all the subsidies, each job would cost tax payers $34,000. Yes, you’re an easy mark. Google bought 111 8th Ave building which is a telecom carrier hotel. Virginia will have to pony up to 9 billion for the right to have Amazon built it’s HQ2. That was their bid.

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Gardens Watcher

I’m no easy mark, D. And FYI, I live in the “city.”

Building a new 6-8 million sq.ft. campus in Queens would have brought construction jobs. Would have created a pipeline of high-tech jobs for many years beyond “day 1.” Would have brought us a new school, training facilities, and other related economic development to Queens. Would have likely attracted other tech firms to Queens too.

Now that’s all lost to another city in Virginia. That’s a big loss for our state and our city, but especially for the borough of Queens.

I’d mark that down as an F for failure for those who lead the effort to block it: AOC, Gianaris, & JVB.

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Anon

If you don’t own it maybe time to move. If you do own it may be time to cash in. If you’re a renter you’re not entitled to jack$hit once your lease is up.

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Gardens Watcher

Ann, re incentives, remember that over 200 metropolitan areas competed in a nationwide contest to win Amazon’s HQ2. And those tax breaks would only kick in if Amazon met their jobs target. Estimates of over $27 billion in tax revenue would have been generated for NYS and NYC.

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D

If you really believe that 25,000 new jobs would have come to NYC because of Amazon’s HQ2, then you are an easy mark. First, there never would have been that many on day 1—it was a wishful projection. Second, who do you think would be taking those jobs? Certainly not 25,000 New Yorkers who were previously unemployed. They “new” jobs would generally be for people who left their previous job in the city, or who moved to the city (from their previous job) specifically to do that job.

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Gardens Watcher

Resident, Cuomo didn’t respond to “spite a political opponent.” Gianaris put out a snarky statement calling the original deal a “subsidy shakedown.” Cuomo and DeBlasio rightfully pushed back on that, and lamented the loss for Queens.

As for AOC, The WSJournal reported the Amazon deal on Friday, and AOC put out a cocky tweet posing on a yellow couch that evening — “Me waiting on the haters to apologize…”

Talk about bush league! What a juvenile act! Amazon HQ2 wouldn’t have been in her district anyway, and it was a NY state and NYC deal—having nothing to do with Congress.

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Larry Penner

It is true that Amazon will bring far fewer jobs to Hudson Yards than the previous proposed Long Island City project. The key difference is that they now require far less public subsidy. Future Amazon employees will benefit by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $2.4 billion extension of the Flushing #7 subway to the new Hudson Yards Station.

Corporate welfare has been going on for decades, on a bipartisan basis by previous Governors and Mayors. NYC prospered and successfully grew prior to creation of the NYC Economic Development Corporation in 1991 and its predecessor – the NYC Public Development Corporation in 1966. In too many instances, projects supported by these municipal government corporations have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low interest below market rate loans, and long term tax exemptions — the bill to taxpayers in the end is greater than the so-called public benefits. There is also a relationship between Pay for Play campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, private property condemnation under eminent domain, building permits along with direct and hidden subsidies. In some cases, city, suburban counties and state development corporations actually compete against each other attempting to outbid each other in offering potential investors the best deal. This translates to the highest subsidies at taxpayers expense.

Don’t forget the conflict of interest for senior staff from city, county or state regulatory and permitting agencies. Too many staffers leave in the twilight of any Mayoral, County Executive or Governor’s administration to become employees or consultants to the same developers they previously oversaw. Some developers try to purchase the support of local community groups by making so-called voluntary donations. They also make promises for capital improvements, which after the major project is completed don’t always appear. Other commitments for creation of permanent new high paying jobs and tax revenues frequently do not meet expectations.

If these projects are worthwhile, why can’t major developers use their own funds or obtain loans from banks, like medium and small businesses?

Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don’t want to do it the old fashion way by sweat and hard work. They are looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at taxpayers expense and favors from elected officials. Who pays for the cost of improved sewer, water, electrical, road, traffic signal and other infrastructure improvements? There is also increased fire, police and sanitation services. How much will taxpayers be on the hook to pick up the tab?

Larry Penner

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Carbie

This is the first wave from the Amazon vampire octopus. There will be more. They always wanted to be here–just wanted to see if they could sucker us for billions first.

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Anonymous

Getting priced out of our homes is NOT worth 20k jobs (which is probably a gross overestimate on Amazon’s part).

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Arthur Fleck

What kind of brainwashed dolts would be happy giving corp welfare to a company like amazon? Fools

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ann

why do people believe the bogus boast of 25,000 jobs? why did NYC have to give such a huge tax break to Amazon, which pays no taxes? how was that in anyone’s interest? The helipad was just a statement of the level of greed and corruption involved. Oh, and would those employees jam into the 7 train, which is already to the max? no space. no thought about infrastructure. Phony plan to benefit Amazon.

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Resident

Cuomo is such a small-ball politician. Fussing about the downside of a business signing a huge lease at Hudson Yards is not leadership. He may disagree with his opponents, but casting a modest improvement in the economic development of NYC as a lost opportunity — just to spite a political opponent — is a bush league move.

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Cicero act IV

Cuomo is taking it personal because he tried to overrun local politicians. Notice how the announcement happened nearly the same day as Cuomo was re-elected?

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for once coumos right

But the local math whiz AOC says we came out ahead with 23,500 less jobs.

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Vic Pinalti

DeMafiozzo is upset because he did not got his big commission from his buddy , Bozo from Amazon !

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Gardens Watcher

25,000 minus 1,500 = 23,500. That’s simple math, AOC & Gianaris, and a fraction of what we could have had with an Amazon HQ2. And the number of jobs created for Queens? ZERO. And you’re calling this a win? Maybe a tiny one for the already busy Hudson Yards neighborhood, but NOT for Queens.

Also, the NYTimes reported that it was unclear whether the 1,500 people expected to work at the 10th Avenue building starting in late 2021 would fill newly created positions. So won’t you look at this, AOC: Amazon already employs more than 8,000 employees in NYC. Didn’t you know that?

Amazon told CNBC that the new leased house office space will house employees from its consumer and advertising teams. These kind of jobs are not comparable to the high-paying, high-tech jobs that would have been created with a second Amazon headquarters in LIC. Plus a new campus would have brought construction jobs and other economic development to western Queens, not western Manhattan.

So what is your plan B for jobs here in Queens, AOC & MG? We’re still waiting for your response. JVB is not quoted in this article, so we await his comment too, especially since he’s running for Queens Boro Prresident.

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