Hand it to the city for maintaining a perfect record when it comes to creating thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue on the land surrounding Anable Basin in Long Island City: two amazingly ambitious proposals put on the table, two proposals left in the trash bin. It’s sad.

First it was Amazon’s plan to build one of its secondary headquarters on the 28-acre site, a collection of lots that run from Vernon Boulevard to the East River, from 44th Avenue to 46th Road, aside from the already built-up blocks west of Fifth Street and south of Anable Basin. It would have provided an estimated 25,000 jobs and $27 billion in tax revenue over 10 years or so, but the city and state would have allowed the firm $2.5 billion in tax breaks and given it another $500 million worth of incentives in exchange. That was enough for so-called progressive politicians led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to spread the lie that Amazon was being handed $3 billion for the pleasure of building in New York. Resistance grew, the city and state did a poor job of defending the deal, and Amazon, the world at its fingertips, eventually got tired of taking a verbal beating and walked away.

As bad as the loss of the Amazon project was, at least you could understand that the optics of giving the richest man on Earth any kind of tax break or subsidy are terrible, even if the public gets $9 back for every $1 it gives up. And in the end, Amazon will be taking up a fair amount of space elsewhere in the city, including the entirety of the Lord & Taylor Building on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, the former site of the deceased retailer’s flagship store.

There will be no such epilogue to the latest debacle on Anable Basin. The companies the city brought together in an effort to come up with a redevelopment plan the public could support will not be taking their plans elsewhere — at least not the unique ones crafted for LIC that they were working on. Not the ones they were putting together after hours and hours of meetings with hundreds of people who wanted to take part in what was a remarkably open planning process.

In this case it apparently was the city that pulled the plug, claiming the developers wanted the public to foot the bill for infrastructure improvements both inside and outside the project site that they should have paid for themselves. According to Politico, however, the cost of those upgrades outside of the development area was $280 million. The players here may be large, successful companies — the site’s biggest property owner is Plaxall, the venerable LIC manufacturing firm — but they’re no Amazon. That’s an awful lot of money to force them to invest outside of their own holdings.

So now, instead of a coordinated, commercially focused development that could have been something like Queens’ version of Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center, we’ll have whatever the individual developers decide to put up. In this market, that may well be nothing, for who knows how long. That will be the price of the city’s arrogant overreach. Despite whatever self-congratulatory tweets area Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer may issue, this is nothing to celebrate. Not when the coronavirus and our collective response to it have destroyed the economy. Not when even Mayor de Blasio, who never saw a jobless person he didn’t want to put on the city payroll, is threatening 22,000 layoffs unless a federal bailout covering all his overspending magically appears (it won’t). And not when the loudest voices against considering the concerns of any business bigger than a bodega — the Van Bramers, the de Blasios, the Ocasio-Cortezes — are also the ones demanding more government spending that can only be covered by a tax base that includes many wealthy people. If they keep this up they’ll risk driving a critical mass of the rich to other states while sites such as Anable Basin are left to rot.

(3) comments

stan chaz

[thumbdown] Your editorial attempts to demonize the honest motives of local politicians who are trying to champian greater community involvement & control in decisions & plans that directly affect both our communities and the way we spend taxpayer money. Apparently you don’t appreciate democracy in action, as you belittle & smear the wisdom and choices of voters who elected our politicians and local leaders. Would you prefer an autocracy that claims to knows what’s best for us? Your editorial grudgingly agrees that “you could understand that “the optics of giving the richest man on Earth any kind of tax break or subsidy are terrible” in the Amazon deal - but it was much more than mere optics my friends. It was the need to get away from backroom Albany deals and giveaways forced down our throats --in favor of more democratic local community involvement. For far too long real estate developers have done what they wanted in NYC, with the sad result of rampant gentrification destroying communities and the lives of long-time residents and businesses. Behemoth Amazon wanted to tell us what to do, — and get paid for it Not in small-business and union friendly NYC guys ....no way. no how. In the latest Anable Basin development proposal the consensus of that greater community involvement (including the voices and concerns of duly elected local leaders), was that the City did not have the money to subsidize these developers in the midst of an depression-level budget-busting pandemic crisis -- a crisis in which fake-populist Trump is irresponsibly telling New York City & State to Drop Dead, because Democrats don’t choose to bow down & kiss his fat rear end during a crisis made far worse by bleach-boy Trump’s own failures, delays, stupidity and inaction. Don’t cry for the rich and super rich who got trillions from Trump’s fake tax cut and pandemic relief bills — while New York State continues to get back far less then we put in in terms of Federal tax dollars. If the rich don’t want to shoulder their fair share to help get us through this unprecedented crisis, then they should show their true tax-evading & un-American colors by moving to the sunny Cayman Islands - lock, stock and barrel. For it was America that made them great, not the other way around. They need to plegde allegiance to America, not to the almighty dollar. Just as we have done in the past, New Yorkers will join together & climb back with or without them. Our proud City we will build back better with the help of a real President: President Joe Biden - a President who will care more about Americans, ALL Americans, than about his own fortune, his corrupt & power hungry cronies ..and Putin. My ears are still ringing from that crazed woman shouting “The best is yet to come” at the top of her lungs during the Republican Convention. When Biden is elected President that phrase will ironically prove to be the only truth uttered during those four days of Republican lies, fear-mongering, distortions, divisiveness and fake news.

204th Street Jack

A well written piece that can be added to the epitaph of NYC and NYS as thousands of your former citizens show up in Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.. How do I know? They are contacts of mine from the military, family and even people I have met in person in local parking lots still with their ''Home State'' license plates on their cars.

The new census will show that people vote with their feet and where they go will gain representatives and where they left will lose same..

If it ever can be saved New York could be a great state again but not under the types of management it has suffered in days of late..

NY don't expect the well managed states to bail you out, instead move here as you continue to do and don't bring your voting habits with you, in short ''Don't vote for what you fled from''....

Linnster

New York is one of the ten "donor" states supplementing the other 40. These ten states (Residents in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have some of the highest tax bills in the nation. They also pay thousands more in federal taxes than their state receives back in federal funding.

In total, 10 states are so-called donor states, meaning they pay more in taxes to the federal government than they receive back in funding for, say, Medicaid or public education. North Dakota, Illinois, New Hampshire, Washington state, Nebraska and Colorado round out the list*) send in more taxes than they receive in return. So, please let's not talk about "well-managed" states since none of the ones you mention are on the "donor" list. It's easy to manage a state better when they get more back than they put in. As far as I'm concerned, they're the welfare states.

*https://www.governing.com/week-in-finance/gov-taxpayers-10-states-give-more-feds-than-get-back.html

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