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Amazon Long Island City HQ2 timeline: What led to the retailer's about-face

Amazon said the backlash and lack of support from local officials forced the company to pull out of the deal.

Amazon pulled out of its deal with the

Amazon pulled out of its deal with the city and state to build a headquarters in Long Island City on Thursday. Above, the southeast corner of what would have been Amazon's new campus near the intersection of 46th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard on Nov. 13. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

So long, Amazon HQ2. The online retail giant said Thursday it would no longer build a sprawling campus along Long Island City’s waterfront amid boisterous opposition from community groups and local lawmakers.

Amazon was poised to invest $2.5 billion to build its HQ2, which was projected to generate $10 billion in tax revenue over 20 years and bring a minimum of 25,000 high-paying jobs to the area. The company was expected to begin hiring this year.

While a majority of New York City residents supported the deal – 58-35 percent, per a Siena College Research Institute poll – some city politicians and community advocacy groups were outraged over the $2.8 billion in tax incentives Amazon was expected to receive. Ultimately, Amazon said the backlash and lack of support from local officials forced the company to pull out of the deal.

“. . . 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,” Amazon said in its statement Thursday. “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.”

Here’s a timeline of events leading up to the fall of Amazon’s Long Island City HQ2 deal.

Sept. 7, 2017: Amazon releases a request for proposals to build a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, promising $5 billion in investments and 50,000 jobs to the city or town with the winning bid.

September 2017: Over two dozen potential HQ2 sites are pitched to New York City officials within days of Amazon’s announcement.

October 2017: Advocacy groups send letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, urging them not to offer financial incentives in their HQ2 proposal.

Oct. 18, 2017: New York City submits proposals for HQ2 sites in Midtown West, lower Manhattan, Long Island City and along the Brooklyn waterfront.

Jan. 18, 2018: Amazon announces New York City is among its 20 finalists being considered for HQ2. The company had reviewed 238 proposals before narrowing its search.

Nov. 5, 2018: The Wall Street Journal reports Amazon plans to split its HQ2 between two locations: Long Island City and Crystal City, Virginia. Officials representing Queens’ waterfront communities express concerns, again, over tax incentives and the potential negative effects a massive campus could have on the rapidly gentrifying area.

Nov. 12, 2018: State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer issue a joint statement against Amazon’s intention to move to Long Island City without community input.

Nov. 13, 2018: Amazon officially announces Long Island City and Crystal City, Virginia as its choices for a split HQ2. Cuomo, de Blasio and other supporters laud Amazon’s promised 25,000 jobs and $10 billion in tax revenue. Gianaris, Van Bramer and opponents are outraged over the lack of community input and $2.8 billion in incentives offered to Amazon as part of the deal.

Nov. 14, 2018: Opponents of the Amazon HQ2 plans protest in Long Island City.

Dec. 11, 2018: De Blasio and Cuomo announce that a community advisory committee, made up of Queens residents, will work with Amazon as it begins the process of moving to the area.

Dec. 12, 2018: The City Council holds its first of four planned hearings on the HQ2 deal. Titled “Exposing the Closed-Door Process,” city lawmakers question Amazon officials for three hours. Protesters interrupt the proceedings several times with chants of “Amazon has got to go.”

Jan. 6: Amazon releases an open letter to Long Island City residents amid continued backlash. The letter lists the benefits the headquarters would bring to the community, including 25,000 new jobs, career training and an estimated $27 billion in tax revenue over 25 years.

Jan. 7: City lawmakers and community groups meet with elected officials from Seattle, where Amazon’s headquarters is located, to discuss issues with the company.

Jan. 31: The City Council grills Amazon officials during its second hearing on the e-retailers move to Long Island City. Amazon refuses to commit to allowing workers to unionize.

Feb. 8: The Washington Post reports Amazon is considering backing out of the Long Island City HQ2 deal.

Feb. 14: Amazon officially withdraws its plans to build an HQ2 in Long Island City. The company says it is still moving forward with its campus in Crystal City and does not plan to reopen its HQ2 search.

With amNY staff


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