Nov. 13, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Amazon officially announced today that it has selected Long Island City as one of two locations for its new headquarters, with plans to bring its operations to sites around Anable Basin.
The e-commerce giant, as part of the announcement, released its agreement with the city and state that outlines must-haves and other parameters related to the headquarters’ planned buildout. Details like approximate square footage of the headquarters, job creation and workforce development, and other site uses around the basin are included in the agreement.
Amazon will initially develop and operate approximately 4 million square feet of new corporate headquarters in several lots from 46th and 44th Road and between Vernon Boulevard and the East River.
The lots are a mix of private and city-owned properties that were all slated for major rezonings and development. The private lots are owned by Plaxall, a large plastics manufacturing company that put out plans last year for an eight-building, 5,000 unit project around the basin.
The city, meanwhile, had plans to bring tech and manufacturing jobs in its sites, along with 1,000 apartments and a public school.
The DOE premises, additionally, were once offered up for organizations to develop a life science and research center there.
Along with the initial headquarter space comes the creation of 25,000 new jobs, with an average salary of over $150,000, over the course of 10 years.
Amazon, however, eventually plans on operating out of 8 million square feet of space around the basin, which is expected to result in up to 40,000 new jobs within 15 years.
While details on how many buildings and their sizes have yet to be put through, Amazon’s plan will begin with the construction of new headquarters in at least 1.5 million square feet of the publicly-owned sites.
And while not listed in the agreement, Amazon will also be temporarily moving into virtually all of One Court Square, which Citi previously said it would be vacating out in 2020, while it builds out the campus.
Amazon is also committing to bringing features like a 10,000 square foot workforce development and training space, roughly 150,000 square feet of public open space and a waterfront esplanade, community and artists work areas, either an elementary or middle school, and light manufacturing space in its development plan.
Some of the listed features, however, will not necessarily be built in the basin area.
The company has also agreed to partly fund infrastructure improvements outside of the headquarter space, but still within Long Island City. The city, however, will receive the funds and decide how to use them for infrastructure needs in the neighborhood.
Other project details include a helipad, for Amazon use only, to be built either within or near the headquarters.
The company, along with the city and state, will also invest a combined $15 million to fund workforce development initiatives relating to HQ2. The initiatives target students and workers, with programs focusing on NYCHA residents and public high school students.
Amazon, additionally, will hold or participate in events at the Queensbridge Houses such as job fairs and resume workshops, to better promote employment opportunities to tenants there.
As far as state tax incentives, Amazon is set to receive a whopping $1.525 billion over the next decade, based on the jobs it creates each year and as it nears its headquarter buildout. But other state and city programs, credits and incentives can push the subsudies given to Amazon to around $3 billion.
The state, in its part, will be creating a “General Project Plan,” as reported in prior articles leading up to Amazon’s announcement, with the goal of rezoning the basin to bring the development plan and its parameters about.
The state, in doing so, will not require City Council or other city public approvals for the project, but will instead be subject to non-binding recommendations from the public.
It is unclear when the GPP will be submitted, although the agreement lists the project’s start date at January 2019, and completion around 2033. Amazon, additionally, has said the total project will cost an estimated $3.7 billion.
The company also said it will begin hiring for the Long Island City headquarters in 2019, with about 700 jobs offered that year. By the end of 2024 about 15,900 jobs are expected to be filled, with the entire 25,000 jobs placed by the end of 2028.
Amazon’s official announcement comes on the heels of a “No to Amazon HQ2 in Long Island City” rally planned for tomorrow morning near the development sites and organized by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, State Senator Michael Gianaris, and other community groups.
Both politicians, while initially favorable to Amazon in Long Island City last year, have denounced the company’s future presence in the area due to the state’s hushed proceedings and the $1.5 billion in tax breaks being handed to Amazon.
“We are witness to a cynical game in which Amazon duped New York into offering unprecedented amounts of tax dollars to one of the wealthiest companies on Earth for a promise of jobs that would represent less than 3 percent of the jobs typically created in our city over a 10 year period,” both electeds said in a joint statement released today.
Other politicians have also spoken out against the project. Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the lack of engagement and exclusion of the city council in negotiations are both troubling, while Congressmember-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said she has received many phone calls from outraged Queens residents about the plan, and called the deal “concerning.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who once joked that he would change his name to “Amazon Cuomo” to lure the company to New York, said in a statement that the company’s move to the area delivers on the state’s promises of economic growth.
“New York can proudly say that we have attracted one of the largest, most competitive economic development investments in U.S. history,” Cuomo said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also said in a statement that he is in support of Amazon in Long Island City, and nodded to continued infrastructure improvements in the area.
“The City and State are working closely together to make sure Amazon’s expansion is planned smartly, and to ensure this fast growing neighborhood has the transportation, schools, and infrastructure it needs,” he said.
Amazon also announced that it would locate half of its HQ2 headquarters in Arlington, Va., and a small operations center in Nashville.
“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come.”
The company will be receiving $573 million in performance-based direct incentives to be in Arlington, while also providing 25,000 jobs with an average wage of over $150,000.
Amazon said it selected Long Island City in part because of its transit access and growing community where “arts and industry intersect.”