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In an abrupt retreat, Amazon cancels plans for NYC headquarters

In an abrupt retreat, Amazon cancels plans for NYC headquarters
[Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

It seems like Amazon couldn’t make it in the Big Apple after all. The company says it’s canceling its decision to build a new headquarters in the Queens borough of New York City.

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“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 said in a statement, “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 decision comes after months of backlash from both residents and city officials, neither of whom were included in, or apprised of, the negotiations as they were happening. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the Economic Development Corporation negotiated a deal privately with Amazon that would have yielded nearly $3 billion in economic incentives for the online retail giant.

Several members of city council were concerned both about the level of subsidy the state was offering Amazon as well as the company’s historical opposition to unionization among workers. There was also a call for an environmental study to be done on what effects Amazon and its new headquarters would have on the city. Rumor of Amazon possibly pulling the plug on its New York headquarters started circulating last week.

Venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, who has helped Uber and Tesla negotiate deals with New York City, says Amazon failed to recognize the on-the-ground realities of doing business in New York. “Had they all just framed the tax incentives as, these are things any company in this geographic location can apply for and we’ll see what happens, amazon could have gotten 80% of the money without any controversy,” he said via text.

Not everyone is happy about the Amazon’s decision to walk away. Julie Samuels, executive director of advocacy group Tech NYC, says, “Amazon’s decision to withdraw from New York is no doubt a blow to our local economy and the tens of thousands of people the company would’ve employed here. New York City is today one of the most dynamic tech hubs in the world, but there is no guarantee we will maintain this status in the future, which makes this news so disappointing.”

Mayor de Blasio said in a tweet today that Amazon is making a mistake:

Of course, Amazon is not exactly leaving New York. It still has a fulfillment center in Staten Island as well as a 360,000s square foot office on the West Side of Manhattan.

While other cities may be keen to jump start their own campaigns to attract the Everything Store’s next headquarters to their city, the company says it will not be re-opening the search—for now.

Below is the full statement from Amazon, outlining its reasons for leaving:

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. 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. While polls show that 70% 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.

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. There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.

We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can’t speak positively enough about all their efforts. The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult.

We do not intend to re-open 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.

Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.

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