Thursday, February 14, 2019


Amazon withdraws:
Amazon on Thursday canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City after facing an unexpectedly fierce backlash from some lawmakers and unions, who contended that a tech giant did not deserve nearly $3 billion in government incentives.

The company, as part of its extensive search for a new headquarters, had chosen Long Island City, Queens, as one of two winning sites, saying that it would create more than 25,000 jobs in the city.

But the agreement to lure Amazon stirred an intense debate about the use of government incentives to entice wealthy companies, the rising cost of living in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, and the city’s very identity.
What a shame! The Amazon deal was already helping the community, and by "community" I mean "real estate speculators, some of whom have never even set foot in the neighborhood." Here's a New York Times story from late December:
... in early November, news broke that Amazon would build a vast campus in the neighborhood and hire more than 25,000 employees.

The deal ... has been greeted with euphoria among real estate brokers who have seen a sudden gold rush of interest in the local condo market.

Some inquiries have come from Amazon employees, but since only a few hundred will arrive in 2019, most buyers have been investors and New Yorkers looking to relocate to a neighborhood on the rise.

... the rush has fueled concerns that a gentrifying neighborhood will become even less affordable, as “tech bros” push out the working class....

Kayla Lee put on a hard hat and took a large work elevator to the roof of Corte, an eight-story condo building under construction where she is the sales director....

The apartments Ms. Lee, a broker for Modern Spaces, shows at Corte are barely framed out and will not be habitable till next October. They range from $560,000 studios to penthouses selling for nearly $3 million.

Since the Amazon news, Corte has raised prices about $30,000 per apartment; more increases are planned.

... One overseas buyer bid $2 million for an apartment without seeing it. When Ms. Lee took 30 minutes to respond, he raised his offer by $20,000. He is now in contract.
A Wall Street Journal story noted that brokers "are renting vans and packing them full of clients eager to view multiple buildings, or holding group tours in Chinese." There are a lot of Chinese-speaking city residents, particularly in Queens, but I strongly suspect that these particular Chinese speakers aren't among them.

But hey, how can you pass up the opportunity to live like the folks in Silicon Valley?

The unemployment rate in Queens County is 3.4%. Queens and the rest of the city will do fine without Amazon. And Amazon will probably find another city willing to fork over $3 billion -- though it would be great if that didn't happen.

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