First let me state that every detail about Amazon’s locating half of their HQ2 in Long Island City is purely conjecture, including the possibility of their actually coming here, which Vegas currently handicaps at 1:4. Thus as much as I want to share more of my opinions on what, for better or worse, will be the most transformational news to effect LIC, I will hold my tongue until any official announcement. Because the devil is in the details.

Nevertheless considering the high probability (1:4 = Yes, not 4:1), I will entertain and analyze a rumor, even if it turns out to be a meaningless exercise – or completely wrong. That rumor is that Amazon will locate their headquarters on the Plaxall/Water’s Edge land – a possibility which has been mentioned in several articles, without any serious validation to my eye.

Anyway, there would be two major positives for Amazon to choose this site, and one major negative, plus a whole bunch of minor +/-’s that I won’t bother fleshing out here. Positive number one is that it will allow the company to build a campus from the ground up, tailored to what they need in terms of amenities and aesthetics for attracting today’s white collar workers. Positive number two is the free advertising given the full visibility of the waterfront by both everyone in Manhattan and all the tourists – whether they be on the ferry, Circle Line, or even viewing on TV. It’s a headquarters and a showcase. The big negative? It’s not really near a subway line. Everyone who works there would have to trudge 7-9 blocks through Hunters Point if they arrive by subway, or add a mini-leg to their commute via shuttle-buses.

Food for thought, and while we’re on that topic, here are some non-Amazon LIC links:

Adda’s Canteen Style DishesThe New Yorker pays homage to our new local Indian restaurant

Bryce Harper Moves Into a Long Island City Apartment Building Where 4 Mets Currently Livewouldn’t it be cruel if he signed w/ the Yankees?

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Two weeks ago I drafted a post on local property values in response to the headlines announcing LIC’s first billion dollar condo building. It questioned the viability of attaining $1 bil in an increasingly softening market. The Amazon HQ2 announcement blew that thesis out of the water. It’s a game-changer so back to the drawing board I went with some new real estate predictions, and while I was at it some other thoughts I had on HQ2 as well as some rumors.

Upon confirmation, raw land prices and development sites are immediately worth 25-75%1 more. Because all other costs (labor, materials, financing, etc.) are fixed, this is the only variable that moves so the total project only increases by 5-15%. This is obviously a huge boon for current land-owners.
Retail – 3+ yrs away before any impact on revenues for local retailers but all retail rent rollovers will incorporate an Amazon Premium, especially those near where HQ2 is actually located
Rental Building Owners – the announcement fully counters the current softness as far as refinancing goes. Owners can now do so using peak 2016-17 pricing
Renters – zero effect for the next 2-3 years. If softness persists, as it should with all the supply, concessions will increase but posted rent levels will stay flat. Then when Amazon starts moving in the concessions will disappear.
Homeowners – the effects will not be so immediate, but prices in LIC should firm 5-10% over the next 12 months. Going forward they will do 2-4% a year better than other NYC neighborhoods for the next five years.

For those looking to make a personal investment, if HQ2 is placed in Court Square or Queens Plaza, I believe the highest expected return going forward will be in Astoria and Sunnyside. It will be slightly less so in Greenpoint (but all those new developments just got a big lift), unless HQ2 is placed in Hunters Point. IF YOU WANT TO SCORE A BARGAIN START LOOKING NOW, and be ready to place a bid once confirmation comes.

As for where HQ2 will be located, that’s complete speculation at this point. One name thrown out for a turnkey foothold, is the Citi building where Citicorp’s departure in 2020 will open up one million square feet.

Or, if Amazon wanted to build a quasi-campus from the ground up, there are numerous parcels in Court Square/Queens Plaza that could be rezoned/repositioned and the multiple subway lines that merge there make it a logical choice.

Finally, there is a rumor that the Plaxall property on the waterfront would be a very attractive option, which when grouped with Water’s Edge and Vernon Swamp is where Amazon could build its own version of Hudson Yards on a highly visible (and large) piece of land…

Thoughts – now that the bake-off is seemingly over, I find it interesting that Amazon decided to completely discard the lower cost-of-living factor in choosing DC and NYC. While some think the whole exercise was a sham and the fix was in, I believe Amazon came to the conclusion they needed world class talent to grow going forward. For all that can be said about cities like Dallas and Atlanta, when you wake up in the morning you’re still in Dallas or Atlanta, not NYC.

The details about the deal the city/state struck with Amazon have yet to be revealed, and until they are I hesitate to give the company’s arrival my endorsement – this could be another instance of Foxconn in Wisconsin whereby the state basically paid for the factory and subsidized the workers to have it located there 2. Nevertheless this decision has the chance to be very favorable for both the company and Long Island City, not to mention NYC.

Yes, there will be collateral damage as it won’t be as affordable as before and there will be some really big winners who just won the lottery (the aforementioned land owners). As for crowding – particularly in the subways, an issue that I have been highly critical about, by placing the workers in LIC as opposed to Manhattan, it will fill the empty subway cars deadheading back to Flushing in the morning and Hudson Yards in the evening. Or better yet, commuters can easily walk or bike to work.

If the deal is struck and it’s reasonable, it will cement Long Island City’s standing as the best place to live (and work) in the best city in the world. And I guess that’s what Amazon thought too.

  1. completely back of the envelope so went with huge range, just wanted to emphasize who had the most to gain []
  2. or in LIC’s case guaranteed Sunnyside Yards be decked over or other egregious zoning upsizing []
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Amazon has chosen Long Island City as one of the two locations for its second headquarters according to The New York Times. Crystal City, Virginia on the outskirts of DC will be the other. Each location is expected to add 25,000 workers over the next few years, and be transformed in the process.

What that transformation will look like for LIC and how it will proceed is unknown at this time, but it is believed that the state and Governor made many concessions and offered many incentives to lure the company.

We have been covering the possibility of this happening from the moment the initial bake-off was announced with 40 candidates. Obviously Amazon felt as we do that Long Island City was the primo location for being a part of NYC – the greatest city in the world – they just had to go through the whole process I guess. In addition to all the wonderful attributes of LIC, it also had the logistical advantage of being near Amazon’s biggest customer, my wife.

Amazon Plans to Split HQ2 in Two Locationsinterestingly, when push came to shove they tossed that whole ‘affordability’ criteria right out the window by choosing NYC & DC

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LICtalk is having some technical difficulties this week, but rest assured that we have our 40-person programming team in Bangalore working 24/7 to fix it. As a hard-hitting (but non-partisan) news source, we get more than our fair share of hacking attacks from all over the world. Nevertheless we’re still able to spread the word from our secure backup location in Parsipanny, just no pics.

Some big LIC headlines out from The Daily News in the last 48 hours: JVB won’t take developers cash in his run for Queens Borough President, Cuomo would change name of Newtown Creek to Amazon if they choose to locate HQ2 in LIC.

Also comes the story of a dominatrix working out of an LIC hotel who got robbed of her cash and wares. See the video, maybe you know one of these gentlemen? Definitely going to get a lot of clicks given the subject matter.

//TROJAN horse? Crain’s speculates the rationale behind the $180 mil going to LIC is possibly a set-up for a big zoning variance. That would explain the intricate website LIC.NYC the city put together.

//THE ferry stop at Hunters Point South has re-opened

//DANCING With the LIC Stars is tomorrow night at the Plaxall Gallery, buy tickets here.

//FINALLY, the NYC Marathon is this Sunday and Long Island City is blessed with its (omni)presence.

Van Bramer Pledges Not to Take Real Estate Cash in Likely Queens Borough President Run – no dinero por favor

Cuomo Ready to Name LIC Creek the Amazon River for HQ2 – sure, why not

City to Invest $180 Mil in LIC Infrastructure – may presage upzoning

Group of Men Break Into LIC Hotel Room, Rob Dominatrix – they got more than they bargained for, $4k worth

All Aboard Again at Hunters Point South – read why it closed in the first place

Thousands of Queensbridge Residents W/O Heat As Winter Nears – raze…

Chinese Firm Takes 70% Stake in $253 Mil Condo Project – for $67 mil

NYC Marathon Chief Takes Measure of a Long Journey – w/ a stop at Sweetleaf

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SO, the city made the announcement today that “Long Island City, New York City’s fastest-growing neighborhood, will get a $180 million infusion of capital to build and improve schools, streets and parks.”  Before you get too excited note that $95 million of it will be spent on sewers, $60 million on a new school that had already been announced, $10 million on street improvements – all of which are necessary infrastructure for the fastest growing neighborhood in the U.S.  That leaves $15 million for parks, so maybe a better headline is “City Allots $15 million for Long Island City Parks.” Continue reading



Of course then there's...

Of course then there’s…

And if you say to me tomorrow,
Oh what fun it all would be
Then what’s to stop us, pretty baby,
But what is and what should never be

Given all the empty storefronts, anyone walking along Vernon Boulevard might wonder how Long Island City is the fastest growing city in the nation.  Of course excessive retail vacancies abound through many stretches of Manhattan as well, and “retailing” as a concept is under siege nationwide due to Amazon.

One of the problems lies with the entrepreneurs who start these businesses. Continue reading

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Getting in the spirit

Getting in the spirit

The Star Chamber of Long Island City has passed down through their disciples that the LIC Halloween Parade on Vernon Boulevard will occur on Sunday, October 28 this year.  You know the drill: kids wear costumes and get candy from the local merchants.  In addition, Continue reading

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No poutine here

Egg and ham but no poutine hoy

PULL that white 3-piece suit out from the back of the closet because Dancing With The Stars is coming to LIC on Friday, November 2.  It will take place at the Plaxall Gallery between 6-9pm and feature local residents competing in a fundraiser for the Floating Hospital and the Queensboro Dance Festival.  The glitz, glamour, and glory are sure to make this contest resemble Dirty Dancing and Footloose and not They Shoot Horses Don’t They.  Tickets include open bar and a buffet by Woodbines & M. Wells and an open dance floor after the show. Continue reading


"I could really use a sandwich, woof"

“I could really use a sandwich, woof”

Excellent question sir and one that’s been eating at me all summer.  Originally scheduled to open by early May according to owner Nick Giovanniello, the storefront has sat undisturbed since.  Recently though, Continue reading

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Scripts, organics, and ...toys

Scripts, organics, and …toys

Simple business plan "Just get'em to like me" -Josh

Simple business plan “Just get’em to like me” -Josh

Everybody wants to support their local retail merchant, but given the chance to save a few bucks most still gravitate to the lowest bidder.  One industry whose prices are basically fixed ((due to insurance, medicare, and medicaid)) is prescription drugs.  Nevertheless there’s a misconception that the chains offer lower prices than independents.  Furthermore, with the exception of some loss-leaders, many non-prescription items are actually more expensive than their local peers, CVS and Rite Aid are no bargains.  Given this background and several favorable anecdotes and endorsements by residents, I decided to profile the two independent pharmacies in Hunters Point. Continue reading

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