The city and state leaders representing Long Island City are not mincing words over Amazon’s potential expansion into their neighborhood.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer issued a joint statement Sunday, slamming the Seattle-based tech giant over its reported intention to set up a second headquarters in Queens, without any real community input. The leaders said they’re concerned that the space needed to employ potentially up to 25,000 people would overload the infrastructure of western Queens and that the company may receive large tax subsidies as part of a deal with the state and the city.
“We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones. It is incumbent upon us to stand up on behalf of the people we represent and that is what we intend to do,” Gianaris and Van Bramer said in the statement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio said they have met with top Amazon executives about bringing HQ2 to Long Island City, but they did not give any details about possible tax breaks and other incentives. Amazon did not return messages for comment.
The senator and the councilman said they would not support an Amazon move if it circumvented the General Project Plan, or GPP, which requires approval from the Department of City Planning for any major land acquisition by a corporation.
“The burden should not be on the 99 percent to prove we are worthy of the 1 percent’s presence in our communities, but rather on Amazon to prove it would be a responsible corporate neighbor,” they said. “Corporate responsibility should take precedence over corporate welfare.”
While some residents agree with the politicians’ concerns, Tech:NYC executive director Julie Samuels called the possibility of an Amazon headquarters in Queens, as well as reports of a Google expansion in Manhattan, as “vindication” that “New York City is the best place to build and grow technology companies.”
“It’s great for New York because it enforces a vibrant technology ecosystem,” she said. “Imagine you have thousands of people coming to work at these companies … They work there for a few years and then they leave and start their own companies or they work for one of the over 7,000 start-ups that already exist in New York.”
With Lauren Cook