During a state legislature hearing today, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said it is “mission critical” that Amazon build HQ2 in Long Island City. De Blasio’s remarks come a few days after a report that widespread outcry from residents and local politicians alike have prompted Amazon to reconsider the move, which the company says would create at least 25,000 jobs.
According to NY1, De Blasio told the state legislature that New York City needs the jobs and revenue that would be created by Amazon. Other Democrats in city council and state senate, however, have been very outspoken against the deal. Amazon was offered incentives including grants, tax credits and breaks worth up to $2.8 billion.
The Washington Post (owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) reported last Friday that Amazon is reassessing its plans for the New York City branch of HQ2. It has not leased or bought office space for HQ2 in Long Island City and final approval is not expected from New York state until 2020, so it would be relatively easy to pull out of the deal. In contrast, a bill to authorize up to $750 million in state subsidies to Amazon was signed into law last week in Virginia, where the other branch of HQ2 will be located.
While Amazon has yet to make an official statement about the fate of its New York City plans, the report that it is reconsidering was welcomed by residents worried about the campus’ impact on housing plans and infrastructure.
One major complexifier to Amazon’s New York City campus is the nomination of state senator Michael Gianaris, whose Queens district includes Long Island City, to the Public Authorities Control Board, which needs to approve the deal. Gianaris has been very critical of HQ2, saying that city and state incentives would be better spent on local programs like transportation, schools and affordable housing instead.
De Blasio defended the offer to the state legislature, stating that “the vast majority of the subsidy that Amazon got was standing incentive programs.”