In the months since Amazon dropped its plans to develop a second headquarters in Long Island City and bring 25,000 jobs and $27 billion in revenue to New York, new commercial tenants are coming to the neighborhood, and tech companies are creating jobs across NYC.
That’s good news. But it doesn’t come anywhere close to filling the massive economic hole left by Amazon’s departure. It’s important to understand that what this region lost remains far greater than the gains being made.
What makes the State Senate’s failure to close the Amazon deal even worse is that new companies, or those expanding, could benefit from some of the very same tax credits decried by Amazon’s opponents. And the community will get … very little. A few jobs, perhaps, but no new school, no open space and no transit improvements.
Meanwhile, the space Amazon was to fill at Long Island City’s Anable Basin remains an industrial wasteland.
Two new commercial tenants are likely headed for the towering Citi building that Amazon was due to occupy. Centene Corp., a health care company, could take 500,000 square feet in the building. But that deal might involve moving the operations of a subsidiary of Centene, called Fidelis, from Rego Park, leaving Queens potentially without a net gain. It, too, would involve city tax incentives of some sort. And questions remain about the public library in that building. Despite a short-term deal to let the library stay, its future after March 2020 is uncertain.
Beyond Long Island City, tech investment in NYC continues. Netflix, for instance, is expanding its Manhattan offices and building studio space in Brooklyn. Netflix promises to create 127 jobs — in exchange for, yes, those same state tax credits the rabble-rousers denounced.
Yet this time around, there’s no demand for more community benefits, no rallies and hearings, no efforts to push these companies out the door. And there shouldn’t be — because NYC needs all the economic boost it can get.
But while each new job is welcome, don’t applaud too hard. A few small deals will never replace the tidal wave of economic activity Amazon would have delivered.