WHAT if Amazon did an about face and bid adieu to locating HQ2 in Long Island City, stating that the rancor over subsidies, additional demands, and outright opposition to gentrification made it untenable. How would that make you feel? There’s a good chance that those on the threshold of being sent packing due to higher rents, be they residents or artists, would be thrilled, and justifiably so. Yet those on the margin are a small minority and subject to the whims of capitalism, whether they be good or bad1.
What about the protesters, of which I read there only a few dozen at a rally two weeks ago? Are they speaking for the majority? How about the two local pols most visibly anti-Amazon, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and State Assemblyman Mike Gianaris? How will they feel upon waking to the headline “Amazon Says Adios LIC?” Think about that and be careful what you wish for this Christmas season…
//ONE of the many articles last week on HQ2 was about a group called Justice for All Coalition that wants to claim the DOE Building on Vernon and 44th Drive for a community center.
Great idea, wrong building. As long time readers know, no one has advocated longer and more repeatedly for a community center in Hunters Point than The Editor. In doing so I think I have a pretty good understanding of what would flourish in this neighborhood, and what location would be ideal. Regarding the latter, proximity is the key for maximum utilization. The DOE building is on the fringe of Hunters Point and a significant distance from the center of the residential community. For example, the main attraction of a rec center in Hunters Point would be a community pool. Whether used by daily swimmers or by parents taking their kids for swim lessons, who wants to shlep an extra 8-10 blocks out on Vernon? Same with an exercise gym. The best location is where the library is, the best location available today is the Rockaway Brewery block, or if you prefer to take it out of Amazon’s hide instead of Plaxall’s, then the parking lot where the LIC Flea is held. Furthermore, this center should be built new for customization. I doubt any consideration has been given to what it would cost and entail to retrofit the DOE building, or if putting a pool in it is even viable. Start from the ground up in a better location, that’s the way to do it right, otherwise you may regret what you wish for…
//LAKE Vernon is the name given to the large vacant lot just north of the DOE Building perpetually swamped with a pool of water. Owned in recent years by the Durst family, The New York Times hints that in light of Amazon they may be dusting off plans to develop what could add another 1 million square feet of residential…
Protesters and NYC Politicians Vow to ‘March Forever’ Against Amazon Deal – hmm
Long Island City Locals Have Other Ideas For Amazon’s HQ2 Site – hmm
What Amazon Means For Long Island City – while the headline sounds smugly definitive, it is a pretty good encapsulation actually
These Resi Brokerages Are Primed to Cash In on Amazon’s Moving In – is HQ2 deal a bailout for NYC real estate developers? Condo price hikes and a slowing of rent decreases
Anable Basin Named in 19th Century – interesting history of ownership way back when
Koufouku Market To Open in Queensboro Plaza – Japanese market coming soon
Another Hotel Planned for Blissville – 14 stories, 282 units
- remember, those in any type of affordable or public housing will not see any changes to their rent increases because of AMZN [↩]
Anonymous saysNovember 27, 2018 at 7:39 pm
Thank you so much for this. I’ve been shocked at the feigned outrage of certain local politicians on this issue. Sure there will be change and yes the community should have some input. But they seem to be against it UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Other than political posturing to boost their profiles, they are clearly not acting in the interest of the community and should lose the support of voters in LIC.
Avg Bourgeois Family Guy in LIC saysNovember 28, 2018 at 12:16 am
Honestly I’ve seen the same lack of representation from politicians in LIC on other issues like the freeze on Uber licenses which hurts transit options and zero responsiveness to the citizens who actually live in LIC today. Believe me I’ve written a few notes and never get a response. Sometimes I think the politicians are simply lost in the past, trying to get LIC back to some working class/industrial community with taxi drivers, artists and strip clubs rather than what’s actually logical from an economic POV albeit less exciting for politicians: a diverse, safe, kid-friendly bedroom community with reasonable retail and parks.
With respect to Amazon, I disagree that there’s not some specific demand from protestors. Most love government spending of all sorts, they just don’t want the money going to a big, successful company like Amazon. $2 billion to small business, OK, or $2 billion to broken housing projects or subways would not elicit protests. But the problem with this line of thinking is those are all just bad government investments while Amazon is a risk-free return. For example, the suggestion is to re-direct $2 billion in subsidies towards infrastructure like subways. However, Amazon and subways are simply not direct substitutes or comparable cost wise. Every single NYC subway project has cost on the order of $8 billion + with regular cost and timing overruns in the decades. What does $2 billion buy in NYC? A fairly beautiful but uselsss Fulton Street oculus. Simply put, giving $2 billion to people who have no idea how to spend it doesn’t solve a thing. Giving $2 billion to Amazon in a way that’s tied to job creation directly, construction investment and further job creation indirectly just seems like a much better investment than anything else proposed or imagined by protesters.
In summary, protests aren’t about the money. It’s about the perception that money only gets to those who are successful rather than those who need it. That’s not true, an order of magnitude more government money in NYC goes to people in need, funds the subways etc. The city budget is $89 billion / yr and the total impact of this Amazon funding spread out over 10 years will be minuscule. The problem is generally the money for people in need is poorly spent and the problems never get fixed. The realistic choice is: do we direct money that way from a fixed pool knowing 75% will be wasted or invest in a sure growth plan with say 25% waste that will broaden the tax base? I take the latter. It won’t fix the root issue of bad infrastructure, etc. but gives us more resources to do so whenever, if ever, we get politicians in charge who actually listen and care to invest taxpayer money prudently.
Nora saysNovember 28, 2018 at 8:30 am
I’ve been thinking whether I should form an opinion or not, I decided rather not to, but anyway thanks for the news, I like coming here from time to time.
JRo saysNovember 28, 2018 at 2:12 pm
I am okay with people protesting as long as the end game is to secure the best deal for our community but if the goal is to totally kill the deal than we are just shooting ourselves in the foot. Yes there will be growing pains as there always is with change but ultimately the city needs to diversify its industries and tech is one that we need to grow. Amazon will also bring a good amount of tax revenue through income taxes and a large number of ancillary jobs with different pay scales. Lets use this opportunity as a bargaining chip to better our community. In addition, having Amazon as a neighbor gives us a bigger voice with the city and state when it comes to our infrastructure needs. We all know money talks. Amazon doesn’t want subways delays and storm flooding any more than we do. I can guarantee you that Sh*^ will happen when Bazos calls DiBlasio and Cuomo. The 7 usually runs great when the Mets are playing now imagine when Amazon is producing.
dr saysNovember 28, 2018 at 3:38 pm
Remove the subsidies, then I am ok. I think those who own feel differently than those who rent.