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Queens Chronicle

Amazon HQ2 to Long Island City?

Company in negotiations with city to bring major offices to Queens

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2018 10:30 am

According to reports, Amazon is nearing a deal to move to Long Island City.

The online retail giant has its main headquarters in Seattle and looked at 238 proposals for HQ2, which was narrowed down to 20, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The second HQ is expected to create 50,000 jobs. HQ2 might be split into two, as 25,000 employees would be in LIC and 25,000 more would be at a location in Virginia.

An article in The New York Times said company executives met with Gov. Cuomo in his Manhattan office two weeks ago. The governor, who believes Amazon would provide an economic boost, was later quoted as saying, “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes.”

He also joked that he would rename Long Island City’s Newtown Creek the “Amazon River.”

There is the question of how the company would fit into the area, in terms of population and transportation. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) has reservations about the situation.

“HQ2 has to work for Queens, not just Amazon,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “We already have an infrastructure deficit in LIC. We must ask how such a complex would impact the people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. This isn’t a done deal. The local community must be heard here.”

In late October, days before the reports about Amazon, Mayor de Blasio announced the city would invest $180 million in Long Island City with a strategy targeting jobs, housing and transportation, along with other needs in the area.

De Blasio did tell reporters, “The city is not providing subsidies, we do not believe in subsidies to corporations for retention or to attract corporations.”

Last year de Blasio wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying, “The brightest minds and innovators want to live in New York. The people who live and come here experience a quality of life unlike anywhere else, from our incomparable public spaces and cultural institutions to our dynamic neighborhoods.”

As New York came under consideration, elected officials from the five boroughs signed a letter noting the positive points of the city. The signers included Van Bramer, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Long Island City), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) and Borough President Melinda Katz.

In October 2017, Court Square Civic Association President Pedro Gomez told the Chronicle, “I think it’s great news for Queens overall. The opportunity for work in the borough is a good one for the people of Long Island City and even beyond our neighborhood.”

Gomez did add that the subway will need to be improved if the borough was selected.

“The system is getting overburdened,” he said. “Transportation as a whole is going to be burdened by this ... it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at.”

Amazon and the Borough President’s Office declined to comment for this story.

Welcome to the discussion.