City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria, Dutch Kills) yesterday joined Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) and State Sen. Mike Gianaris (Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside) in questioning both the process and the merits of Amazon’s rumored placing of a second corporate headquarters to Long Island City.
According to the NYTimes the Seattle-based company is nearing a deal to move to LIC along with Washington DC suburb Crystal City as a second and third headquarters and will bring with it 50,000 employees in the two locations.
The outlet also reported that Amazon executives recently met with both Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio on separate occasions. Amazon refused comment on the development to Queens County Politics and both the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the state’s Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) did not return several emails and phone calls from QCP on the issue.
Van Bramer called the lack of transparency in the process outrageous and noted consideration must be made front and center on the potential impact on the people who live in Long Island City and the surrounding neighborhoods of Woodside, Astoria, and Sunnyside, including tens of thousands of NYCHA residents.
“We’re talking about a multi-billion dollar development. Where is the community engagement? What does this mean for Queensbridge Houses? How much is being promised by the Governor and what is Amazon doing for our city in return? This plan should not be delivered with special subsidies and corporate welfare from taxpayer dollars. This isn’t a done deal. The local community must be heard,” said Van Bramer.
“HQ2 has to work for Queens, not just Amazon. We already have an infrastructure deficit in Long Island City. Our community has been fighting for more and better transportation, affordable housing, schools, and open space for years. But overcrowding issues persist. Before anything is confirmed with Amazon, we’ve got to make sure that we could handle this and that sustainable infrastructure would be put in place to prevent our communities from being overwhelmed,” the lawmaker added.
Kim, who is considering a run for Public Advocate, has been vocal ever since Amazon earlier this month signed a lease for 83,000 square feet of space in an industrial property by the Brooklyn-Queen Expressway at 26-15 Boody St. in East Elmhurst.
The company said is will open a delivery center at the location that will create “hundreds” of jobs, $18- to $25-per-hour independent contractor gigs along with part-time and full-time associate positions “with competitive wages and comprehensive benefits.”
“Amazon should be facing consequences for its clear violations of anti-trust laws, not embraced with open arms into our borough,” Kim said in a prepared statement following that announcement. “They reached their super-monopoly status by controlling everything from the supply chain and marketplace down to even the retail space.”
When asked about Amazon’s possible headquarters location in LIC, Kim spokesperson Tony Cao repsonded, “When a large [internet] corporation like Amazon comes into our neighborhoods, specifically in Long Island City, which has very vibrant, small business communities, the assemblyman doesn’t think something like this would help our community or help New York City thrive in the long term.”
Meanwhile, Gianaris told the NYPost that the project that would change the very fabric of the neighborhood, which is already being stressed.
“We’re asking all the wrong questions,” Gianaris told the media outlet. “We’re tripping over ourselves to provide tax dollars into Amazon instead of asking what Amazon would do to improve the community.”