Lightstone Group’s David Lichtenstein said Friday that Amazon’s about-face on its New York megacomplex was the “worst day for NYC since 9-11.”
“Except this time, the terrorists were elected,” the developer added in an email to The Real Deal, in a dig to the politicians who fiercely criticized the tech giant’s deal with the city for the nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and government incentives it came with. On Thursday, Amazon cited pressure from the local politicians as its reason to abandon the deal for the Long Island City campus, which was to bring 25,000 new jobs to New York and would create, by some expectations, $27 billion in tax revenue over a decade.
Since November, Amazon had faced fierce backlash from elected officials, activists and union leaders, who criticized the secretive nature of the negotiations between the company and the city and state, and who argued that the world’s most valuable company did not need to be cajoled with tax breaks to come to New York.
Among the deal’s most vocal critics: State Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, who was named to a board that had veto power over the plan; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose congressional district borders the one where the complex would rise; and leaders from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union.
“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,” Amazon said in a statement Thursday explaining its decision to drop the plans.
Lightstone is a major developer with a $3 billion portfolio across New York, Miami and Los Angeles. In Long Island City, Lightstone owns a 428-unit rental building less than two miles from where Amazon’s campus was set to rise.
Lichtenstein is among several industry figures who’ve addressed losing out on the Amazon campus, which the real-estate industry felt would be a major boost to both the residential and commercial markets. “The future of the neighborhood is still going to happen,” said Robert Whalen, Halstead’s director of leasing in Long Island City, “but Amazon could’ve accelerated the process.” Dave Maundrell, of Citi Habitats, said that without Amazon, “we’re back to where we were six months ago. The market’s gonna go back down.”
Kathryn Wylde, who leads the pro-business group Partnership for New York City, said that “we competed successfully, made a deal and spent the last three months trashing our new partner.” Seth Pinsky of RXR Realty echoed her sentiments, telling the Wall Street Journal that “for some of the people opposing the project it was kind of a game.”
“They enjoyed being the center of attention and having their statements tweeted and retweeted,” Pinsky added. “But this isn’t a game.”
On Valentine’s Day, Amazon broke hearts all over New York City, dumping us like a boyfriend with cold feet. The loss is incalculable.
Gone, apparently for good, is the promise of not only more than 25,000 new highly skilled and well-paying jobs, at least a chunk of them for women and minorities, but all the goodies that go along with them.
With the withdrawal from its proposed campus in Long Island City, the company has snatched away potentially tens of billions in tax revenue, soaring interest in local real-estate, plus new stores, restaurants and guaranteed employment for everyone from babysitters to dog-walkers.
It’s official. New York is not only freakishly hostile to business, but suspicious to a suicidal degree of billionaires who own things, the very people who bring employment to our midst. With their “Take these jobs and shove it” attitude, New York’s sanctimonious, progressive politicians and assorted naysayers should be proud of themselves.
But what about the rest of us?
Democratic City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer took part in an unseemly “victory press conference” Thursday, one with little support from ordinary Joes and Janes who badly wanted to work for the company, only to see their hopes demolished.
Newbie US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, self-described democratic socialist, reacted to the exit news not with somber reflection or the announcement of new jobs-creating initiatives — but with an insulting Twitter celebration.
“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” she tweeted.
She failed to explain how she intends to pay for her signature initiatives, a basket of gifts, including free health care, free college, and the total elimination of carbon emissions, as contained in her Green New Deal — a draft proposal of which bemoaned the likely inability to rid the nation quickly of airplanes and “farting cows.”
Long Island City’s Democratic state Sen. Mike Gianaris, the deputy majority leader — a former Amazon enthusiast — has taken to endlessly deriding the company with the Twitter hashtag “#Scamazon.” He joined anti-Amazon activists at a ridiculous rally in Queens Saturday, where he said, “We’ve learned over the last year that Amazon is not a responsible company. They want to take $3 billion from us. We’re trying to stop it.”
Well, he did. Thanks a lot.
Every politician who expended oxygen or computer keystrokes to run out what would have been a gigantic boon to the city is guilty of “political malpractice,” as Gov. Andrew Cuomo said about Gianaris.
Every one of these Bozos should pay for this incredible loss with their jobs, come Election Day. Or sooner.
As recent polls demonstrate, a majority of New Yorkers were all in for Amazon. We know better than these out-of-touch politicos what’s good for us. No professional activist will feed our families.
While Amazon’s kiss-off of the city may well serve us right, I am not alone in bemoaning this development. Not only have we been stripped of a great opportunity for real employment growth and related monetary benefits, the fleeing of Amazon will reverberate for years to come.
The officers of other corporations considering setting up shop in the city will realize they’d rather stick pins in their eyes than tangle with New York’s loathsome political class.
Most any municipality in the nation would eagerly grab the $27.5 billion tax windfall to be paid over 25 years, for the cost of just shy of $3 billion in taxes and subsidies over the same period. These are the numbers touted by Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who fought for this deal, and they’ve not been debunked.
As the company fades away, shame should fall squarely on the shoulders of all the people responsible, most of whom have never even met their constituents. The entire city will live to regret their bone-headed moves.
Love definitely isn’t in the air today — at least not for supporters of Amazon’s New York City headquarters. The retailer has officially called it quits on its plans to launch an NYC-based HQ2 in Long Island City, citing less-than-supportive city leaders as the primary reason.
Though 56% of New Yorkers supported the move, Amazon says “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us.“
The rumors of a pullout had been swirling since Friday when theWashington Post broke the news that Amazon might be reconsidering its decision. Local lawmakers like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Michael N. Gianaris have been outspoken about their distaste for the project in recent weeks, as have several city council members and community leaders.
Still, many experts brushed it off wheeling and dealing on the part of Bezos and Co. As Gill Chowdhury of New York’s Warburg Realty put it: “It is a negotiating strategy. Jeff Bezos and Amazon are more powerful than New York City — at least they are more powerful than New York City’s leaders. Coming to terms and then asking for more is a negotiating strategy.”
Though Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly brokered a meeting between union leaders and Amazon executives as late as Wednesday, it appears the talks were ineffective. De Blasio has been a firm supporter of the project since the beginning.
According to Eric Benaim, who recently started a petition in favor of the New York City-based headquarters, de Blasio and other leaders might have some unhappy constituents now that the deal has fallen through.
Before Amazon’s announcement, Benaim said, “I would think the local leaders who oppose Amazon coming to LIC are worried, because if the deal does get rejected, they will go down in history as the people who lost 25,000 jobs for New York City.”
Amazon announced its plans to build the Long Island City campus late last year. It would have created up to 40,000 jobs and $27.5 billion in local tax revenues, according to estimates. According to Amazon’s announcement, the company is not reopening its search for a second HQ2 location and will move forward with its plans for Crystal City, Virginia, and Nashville.
There are 3,141 counties in the United States
Trump won 3,084 of them.
Clinton won 57.
There are 62 counties in New York State.
Trump won 46 of them.
Clinton won 16.
Clinton won the popular vote by approx. 1.5 million votes, in the 5 counties that encompass NYC, (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond & Queens)
Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton only won 4 of these counties, Trump won Richmond)
Therefore these 5 counties alone, more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country.
These 5 counties comprise 319 square miles.
The United States is comprised of 3,797,000 square miles.
When you have a country that encompasses almost 4 million square miles of territory, it would be ludicrous to even suggest that the vote of those that encompass a mere 319 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election.