As Amazon backs away from Queens, New Yorkers credit, or blame, community leaders – Metro US

As Amazon backs away from Queens, New Yorkers credit, or blame, community leaders

amazon hq2 in queens protest
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Amazon has decided not to build their controversial second headquarters in Long Island City, after months of sustained opposition to the deal by local politicians, community groups and unions. The local groups that agitated against $3 billion in subsidies negotiated privately by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio claim that the move proves that community organizations have power to effect real change. Proponents for the deal complain that this is so.

“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” stated State Senator Mike Gianaris, one of the state senators alluded to by Amazon as the reason for its departure from Queens.

“This was such a community effort in large part led by immigrant women of color all throughout Queens,” said Josselyn Atahualpa, an organizer for Queens Neighborhood United, a member of the #NoAmazonNYC coalition. “This should show the rest of the world that kicking corporations out is possible and that we should never shy away from a difficult battle.”

Proponents of the Amazon deal highlighted lack of compromise as the fault of politicians and advocacy groups, warning of dire consequences of Amazon pulling out.

“No words at this moment can convey the sadness and dismay at the loss of this historic opportunity,” said Tom Grech of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “An entire generation will look back at these last few months and ask us why. I hope those who opposed this Amazon deal have the answers to what we lost today.”

“When we are so strident that we’re unwilling to sit down to the table and talk about how we can make something better–if the original deal wasn’t the best deal, you sit down and see if you can work out something better for the community and the city as a whole,” said Sid Davidoff, a senior partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, a real estate law firm. 

However, some opponents to the deal, and Mayor de Blasio, claim that Amazon was the one unwilling to renegotiate.

While anti-Amazon sentiments predominated the discourse online, some chose to mock the rich who have attempted to capitalize on rising real estate values in Long Island City.

“The speculators who started buying up property perhaps thinking that it was going to be a golden pot at the end of the rainbow, it’s certainly going to affect them,” said Davidoff, before adding that he still expects property values to rise in the area anyway. “Long-range developers who’ve made an investment in Long Island City will grow at a much smaller pace, but it’ll still grow.”

Some opponents, however, chose to direct their ire at Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, the original negotiators for the Amazon deal.

“This is a great moment, but the work that follows is more important. The City and State showed us their wallet when they promised all these subsidies to Amazon,” added Atahualpa. “NYC groups have been asking for real affordable housing, money for NYCHA and improved mass transit, more investment in youth spaces and community centers for a long time, and we were always told there was no money.”

“Shoutout to De Blasio and Cuomo,” wrote Reddit user bedandsofa. “Run for President now you fucks.”