Amazon ditches New York headquarters plan, won’t look elsewhere

Amazon says it will not build a new headquarters in New York City, a stunning reversal to an ambitious plan that would have brought an estimated 25,000 jobs to the city.

Amazon said Thursday it does not plan to look for another location, and will continue to build out HQ2 offices in Arlington, Virginia, and a logistics hub in Nashville, Tennessee.

The online retailer faced fierce opposition from some New York politicians who were unhappy with the nearly $3 billion in tax incentives Amazon was promised. Along with thousands of jobs, the Seattle company had planned spend $2.5 billion building its new offices.

"After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens," Amazon said in a written statement. "For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, 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 with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.

"We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada."

The company added that it already has 5,000 employees in New York City and plans to grow those numbers.

It was a serious blow to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who lobbied intensely to land the campus within city limits.

Critics see the project as an extravagant giveaway to one of the world's biggest companies and argue it won't provide much direct benefit to most New Yorkers. Several welcomed the news that Amazon might be rethinking the plan.

"This announcement marks a landmark victory for our communities and shows the power of the people, even when taking on the world's richest man," said Deborah Axt, co-executive director of the anti-poverty group Make the Road New York.

She said the Amazon was going to get "taxpayer giveaways" so that it could "force its empire-building on our neighborhoods."

But the plan has strong support from the population as a whole.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in December found New York City voters support having an Amazon headquarters, by 57-26 percent. But they were divided on the incentives: 46 percent in favor, 44 percent against.

The Arlington campus was expected to be the same size as the New York one, with 25,000 employees. The Nashville office is expected to have 5,000 employees.

Indianapolis was a top-20 finalist to land the headquarters project, the Indy Chamber taking the lead in spearheading the city's bid.

"Our position in Amazon’s final 20 contenders for HQ2 clearly showed that the Indianapolis region is a major player on a global stage," Joe Pellman, director of marketing and communications for Indy Chamber, said in an email to IBJ on Thursday when asked to comment on Amazon's latest decision. "Rest assured that the work of our economic development teams has not slowed down since Amazon’s bid process concluded. Indy Partnership’s regional economic development experts receive daily requests for information on potential business expansion or relocation projects. While this work is typically confidential to respect the clients and the process, we remain committed to creating the best environment for our communities to grow."

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}