Amazon drops plans for New York HQ2

In a surprise turn, Amazon has announced that it’s pulling out on plans to open one of two HQ2 locations in New York City. The move follows much criticism from local government and citizens, who have pushed back on the company’s proposed Long Island City location, citing tax breaks and Amazon’s longstanding anti-unionization policies.

Amazon has offered a lengthy statement to TechCrunch, which also notes that it has no plans to re-open its search for a new location, instead sticking with already announced plans for Northern Virginia and Nashville.

Here’s the statement in full:

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.

Unlike the other announced locations, Amazon’s plans for a Queens location have been the subject of criticism since day one, owing in part to deals that were brokered behind closed doors with Mayor Bill de Blasio. The city’s already shaky infrastructure and strained housing also came under scrutiny, as did the location of the proposed build, which had already been set aside for schools, affordable housing and parks, along with smaller commercial space. 

Amazon reps were grilled in multiple city council meetings, and met with statements like, “New York is a Union town,” by council members. Last week, the company was reported to be rethinking the move, but shook off the suggestion, telling TechCrunch, “We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors – small business owners, educators, and community leaders. Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”

A mere two days ago, de Blasio called the plan “mission critical.” For now, however, that mission appears to have failed.

“I look forward to working with companies that understand that if you’re willing to engage with New Yorkers and work through challenging issues New York City is the world’s best place to do business,” City Council speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement offered to TechCrunch. “I hope this is the start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent. I know I’d choose mass transit over helipads any day.”