The Industry

Amazon Nixes Plans for HQ2 in New York

Amazon has been facing escalating opposition from local lawmakers in New York.
Amazon has been facing escalating opposition from local lawmakers in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Amazon announced Thursday that it has decided to cancel plans to build a headquarters in New York City.

“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,” said Amazon spokesperson Jodi Seth. Executives had reportedly been meeting with union leaders, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in recent days and came to conclusion that there was no viable path for the company to set up shop in New York.

Amazon’s decision to come to New York came after a yearlong competition among cities to land the coveted HQ2. The company ultimately split its choice. It had said it planned to create more than 25,000 jobs in New York, which in turn promised close to $3 billion in incentives. Amazon also plans to set up a campus in Crystal City, Virginia, and a smaller operations center in Nashville, Tennessee. The company stated that it will proceed with expanding to those locations, but will not re-open a search to find a replacement for New York City.

In a longer statement released shortly after the announcement, the company praised Cuomo and de Blasio for their commitment for the project. However, Amazon blamed other officials for stymieing the plans. “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,” the statement read.

Amazon faced backlash when it announced its decision to establish a hub in New York. Local activists began crowding public forums soon after the plans were made public to decry the secretive process through which the incentive packages were determined and to raise concerns about gentrification, especially given that the location for the new headquarters was near one of country’s biggest public housing developments .

Local powerbrokers, some of whom initially supported Amazon’s arrival, also began to sour on the deal. State Sen. Michael N. Gianaris and City Council Deputy Leader James Van Bramer, among the most outspoken opponents of HQ2 in recent weeks, reportedly rescinded their approval because the deal had been designed to circumvent City Council. State and city lawmakers have also taken issue with the fact that public subsidies were going to the world’s most valuable company.

Local unions, such as the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the Teamsters had been also helming an aggressive campaign to put the deal on hold until Amazon agreed to let workers in Queens unionize. A company executive publicly testified before the City Council that it would oppose such efforts.

The opposition stalled and made uncertain New York’s approval for Amazon’s subsidies. While Virginia lawmakers quickly passed its $750 million incentive package for Amazon in January, the New York state Legislature was not expected to give final approval until 2020.