Amazon cancels plans to build headquarters in Queens

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, February 15, 2019
Amazon cancels plans to build headquarters in Queens
CeFaan Kim has more from Long Island City.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- In a stunning reversal, Amazon announced Thursday that it will not build a headquarters in Queens due to local opposition.

"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," spokeswoman Jodi Seth said in a statement.

Last week, the Washington Post first reported that Amazon was reconsidering the plan.

"We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion - we love New York," the online giant said in a blog post, adding that it already has 5,000 employees in the city and plans to increase that number.

Local businesses react to Amazon's decision:

Jim Dolan has more from Long Island City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Amazon for pulling out of the deal.

"You have to be tough to make it in New York City," he said. "We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can't recognize what that's worth, its competitors will."

Amazon announced in November that it had chosen the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens for one of two new headquarters, with the other in northern Virginia. The company had planned to spend $2.5 billion building its new New York City office.

Governor Andrew Cuomo had championed Amazon's plan. He released the following statement:

Stacey Sager has reactions to Amazon's decision not to build headquarters in Queens.

An indication that Cuomo was growing concerned over opposition to the Amazon deal and reports of the company having second thoughts was evident in comments he made during an interview Tuesday with a New York City radio station.

"I don't think they're bluffing," he said. "I think this is very serious."

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, whose appointment of Michael Gianaris to a key post started all this, said the "process was clearly flawed."

Gianaris said the decision, "shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York ... Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way."

Nicole Malliotakis, who ran against the mayor and is a frequent critic, said "Nice going anti-capitalists. Taxpayers wanted a BETTER deal, not to KILL the deal."

The online retailer faced opposition from some New York politicians and activists, who were unhappy with the billions of dollars in tax incentives and grants that Amazon was awarded.

The move would have brought 25,000 jobs to New York City.

Jimmy Van Bramer and other members of the City Council had tried unsuccessfully to get Amazon officials to agree to remain neutral in the face of any potential union drive. Van Bramer said that he believes Amazon feared the possibility of a successful union drive in New York:

"They knew that their anti-union, their virulently anti-union position here was not tenable here and if they caved here then they would face rising pressures all across the country and the world to allow their workers to organize," he said.

WATCH: NYC politicians who opposed Amazon react to the company's decision

Unlike New York, elected officials in Virginia have welcomed the company with open arms.

The company is not reopening their search and will re-base the jobs to Northern Virginia, the other site selected for Amazon's headquarters, and Nashville, Tennessee.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy kept the door open in case Amazon changes its mind.

"After learning of the decision to pull out of their chosen HQ2 location, I contacted Amazon and City of Newark stakeholders directly, continuing a constant dialogue that predates my time as governor," he said. "New Jersey is open for business, and now more than ever, Newark is the clear choice as the next presence for Amazon corporate offices. Amazon now has the opportunity to join in Newark's story of a city on the rise."

Full text of Amazon statement:

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.

We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.

Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.

More Reaction:

Make the Road New York -

"This announcement marks a landmark victory for our communities and shows the power of the people, even when taking on the world's richest man," co-executive director Deborah Axt said. "Our members and allies stood firm against Governor Cuomo's plan to give away more than $3 billion in taxpayer giveaways so that Amazon could force its empire-building on our neighborhoods...We also know that Amazon will continue to push its deeply troubling tactics, including anti-worker policies, fueling displacement, collaborating with ICE, and raiding public coffers, in other communities across the country, such as Northern Virginia, Nashville, and Seattle, and we stand in solidarity with those communities."

City Councilman Eric Ulrich -

"It never ceases to amaze me how the loud voices of a few could destroy the chance at a better life for so many," he said in a statement. "Amazon had big plans in store for the borough of Queens, and we blew it! They were going to invest in our future, hire locally, contribute to the community, and make the greatest city in the world even greater...This sets a bad precedent moving forward and will deter other companies from setting up shop in our city."

City Council Speaker Cory Johnson -

"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," he said. "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."


* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube