Amazon announced Thursday it's canceling its plan to build headquarters in New York City, delivering a victory to progressive groups and lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have fiercely opposed the project since it was first announced.
The corporate giant chose the neighborhood of Long Island City in Queens to build its campus, known as HQ2. But lawmakers, unions, and local civil rights groups contended that a tech corporation such as Amazon didn't deserve the nearly $3 billion in government incentives Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio had offered it, and that establishing the campus would accelerate gentrification in nearby neighborhoods and contribute to the displacement of New Yorkers in low-income communities.
The campus would likely take up to eight million square feet of office space, which could hold as many as 40,000 workers. The state and local government even sweetened the deal with offering a helicopter pad for Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO and the richest man in the world.
Ocasio-Cortez represents New York's 14th congressional district, which includes the Bronx and in Queens, Long Island City's surrounding neighborhoods. The progressive darling celebrated Thursday's decision with a tweet. "Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world," she wrote.
Meanwhile, both Amazon and local officials who have favored the creation of the campus went back and forth blaming each other. In its statement announcing the decision to pull out of the Long Island plans, an Amazon spokesperson said: "A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward." But Mayor De Blasio accused the tech giant of "throwing away the opportunity" to make business in New York City.
You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) February 14, 2019
Local civil groups such as New York Communities for Change (NYCC) also spoke up in favor of Amazon's decision. "Never again should any city or state leaders bend over backwards to give away billions of public dollars to corporations that harm workers and communities. It’s wrong and acceptable, period. Instead, New York should be investing more resources in real affordable housing, better public transit, and high-quality public schools. And our leaders should be demanding that all corporations doing business in New York City meet the highest and best standards for how workers and communities are treated,” Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, said in statement provided to Refinery29.
Deborah Axt, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said in statement provided to Refinery29: "We are enormously grateful to community and labor allies in this fight, and elected officials including Senator Mike Gianaris, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, and Council Speaker Corey Johnson for their leadership. Axt added: "We also know that Amazon will continue to push its deeply troubling tactics—including anti-worker policies, fueling displacement, collaborating with ICE, and raiding public coffers—in other communities across the country such as Northern Virginia, Nashville, and Seattle, and we stand in solidarity with those communities."