Amazon last week signed a lease for 83,000 square feet of space in an industrial property by the Brooklyn-Queen Expressway at 26-15 Boody St. in East Elmhurst. It’ll operate a delivery station there.
The company says the station will create “hundreds” of jobs, $18- to $25-per-hour independent contractor gigs along with part-time and full-time associate positions “with competitive wages and comprehensive benefits.”
But one Queens elected official is calling on the huge, controversial corporation to back off.
“Amazon should be facing consequences for its clear violations of anti-trust laws, not embraced with open arms into our borough,” Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) said in a prepared statement. “They reached their super-monopoly status by controlling everything from the supply chain and marketplace down to even the retail space.”
The East Elmhurst property is outside of Kim’s district. But the assemblyman is a vocal critic of the e-commerce giant who says it should be broken up.
Unlike a great deal of Queens Democrats, who supported Public Advocate Letitia James in the Democratic primary race she ultimately won, Kim supported Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout. Breaking up monopolies and aggressively enforcing antitrust laws were big parts of her platform.
According to TechCrunch, Amazon is expected to account for 49 percent of all e-commerce sales in the United States and 5 percent of retail sales this year.
“Simply put, for every one job they may create today in Queens, they will take away 10 jobs tomorrow through their extractive practices,” the assemblyman said of the corporation. “We should work together to hold Amazon accountable for using its super-monopoly status to manipulate data and destroy competition, a direct violation of our anti-trust laws.”
He also penned an op-ed about the company that can be found in some editions of this week’s Chronicle or at qchron.com.
After the Chronicle asked Amazon for a response to Kim’s comments, it emphasized how it believes the community will benefit from the delivery station.
“We are excited to continue our investment in New York to speed up delivery times for customers and provide great job opportunities for the talented workforce,” a company spokeswoman said in an email. “Sales from small businesses using Amazon Marketplace account for 50% of the units sold on Amazon, and hundreds of small delivery service companies across the country employ thousands of drivers to deliver smiles to Amazon customers. Entrepreneurs and small business owners around the world are thriving on Amazon, as they are now able to reach millions of new customers on a daily basis.”
According to The Real Deal, the company has plans to operate a 855,000-square-foot distribution center in Staten Island.
New York is among the cities vying to become the home of Amazon’s second headquarters, known as HQ2.
In October last year, the company got a response from the de Blasio administration that identified Long Island City, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle and the Financial District as possible locations to erect the $5 billion headquarters facility, which it says will create 50,000 jobs.
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that LIC is one of the areas in the city that Amazon is “exploring.”
The company will announce the future home of HQ2 by the end of the year.
Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Grech has many times advocated for HQ2 to be constructed in the borough.
He told the Chronicle on Wednesday that the delivery station in East Elmhurst will be an economic win for Queens because of the jobs it’ll create. He also says it’s a good sign for those who want to see the headquarters complex established in the borough.
Grech praised Amazon’s Marketplace, saying it “has really been supporting some of the smaller businesses [in Queens] and allows them to have a bigger reach for their products.”
Even if the borough doesn’t get HQ2, the chamber of commerce chief said Queens is “very, very well-positioned for” a similarly large investment, especially one from the technology industry.
“We have seven colleges and universities generating a lot of graduates that have technical skills,” Grech explained. “I think any large tech start-up, any large tech company would do well here.”