- New Yorkers protested Amazon’sHQ2 move to Long Island City on Monday, storming an Amazon Books store in Manhattan.
- Amazon’s announcement earlier in November that it would open part of its second headquarters in New York City has been met with criticism from many New Yorkers.
- Here are eight reasons why New Yorkers are not excited about HQ2.
Protesters are storming one of Amazon’s stores in New York City as anger and criticism regarding HQ2 spills over.
On Monday, an Amazon Books store in Manhattan was flooded with protesters railing against the decision to open part of the company’s second headquarters in Queens, New York.
Amazon announced earlier this month that it would open offices with up to 25,000 jobs in Long Island City. And, while politicians have celebrated the move, many New Yorkers have responded with concern and criticism.
Armed with signs and “F— Off Amazon!: A Black Friday Action Songbook,” protesters took action to highlight their concerns on Monday. Songs and chants include “DeBlasio the Neoliberal Mayor,” sung to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “The Bezos Song,” with lyrics like “Bezos, Bezos, Bezos!/Your heart is made of clay/But all our politicians/Line up to be your bae.”
Here’s a scene from the store, from WABC-TV’s Dave Evans:
Protest inside amazon on 34th. Chanting GTFO against new amazon hdqtr2 pic.twitter.com/Wo3SNy0K7U
— Dave Evans (@daveevansabc7) November 26, 2018
And, another video from PIX11 News’ Cristian Benavides:
— Cristian Benavides (@cbenavidesTV) November 26, 2018
Why are New Yorkers up in arms about Amazon opening offices in Long Island City?
Critics have a long list of reasons. Here are eight:
New York City offered Amazon $US1.5 billion in tax incentives.
“If Amazon keeps up its end of the bargain by creating 25,000 jobs, it is eligible to receive direct incentives of $US1.525 billion,” Mary Hanbury reports. “These are rebates on tax paid on employees salaries and reimbursements for building the new offices.”
Not everyone is thrilled that a multibillion-dollar company is being offered more than a billion dollars in subsidies.
“Amazon is a billion-dollar company,” Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted. “The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”
More New Yorkers could become homeless.
“A Zillow senior economist recently found that Amazon’s HQ2 could introduce 830 new homeless residents to New York City … on an annual basis,” Business Insider’s Aria Bendix reports.
Rents are set to skyrocket.
“An analysis conducted by Zillow in April found that if the new campus were built entirely in New York, then annual rents in the area could be as much as $US204 higher than Zillow’s estimates for rents without the new offices,” reports Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson.
While splitting the headquarters may decrease the costs, people are already on the hunt for real estate in Long Island City following Amazon’s announcement. According to The Wall Street Journal, one brokerage firm sold 150 units in four days – 15 times its usual volume – the week that Amazon announced plans to open a headquarters in Long Island City.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on Monday’s protests or critiques of its impact on New York City rents.
Headquarters are likely displacing plans for affordable housing.
“Amazon’s eight-million-square-foot headquarters will likely squash previous plans to build affordable housing on that site,” reports Business Insider’s Rachel Premack.
“The fact that massive public subsidies are helping eliminate affordable housing units is just the latest reason this bad deal needs to be torn up and thrown away,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents Long Island City, told Politico Pro.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Politico Pro that its new Long Island City complex would not include housing.
Public transit is already bursting at the seams.
“Overcrowded trains and buses in LIC and areas to its east are the norm during peak hours,” Dave Mosher reports. “More often than not, three fully crowded subway trains pass me by on their way to LIC and Manhattan before I can squeeze onto one. If you have small children, are pregnant, or disabled, rush hour is almost impenetrable.”
Adding 25,000 Amazon employees to the area could add even more strain on the public transportation system.
Long Island City is likely going to be flooded in the near future.
“Under the most extreme projections of sea level rise, the researchers find a 100% likelihood that Queens will witness coastal flooding by 2050, meaning many of its low-lying buildings will be submerged in water,” reports Bendix. “Even under moderate projections, parts of the county – including major waterfront developments – could be flooded by 2080, much sooner than scientists originally anticipated.”
The area needs an infrastructure update that Amazon is unlikely to fund.
“Over the past several years, New York has set aside $US46 million for sewer and water-main upgrades in Long Island City,” including a recent $US180 million in new spending for improvements to Long Island City, reports Business Insider’s Dennis Green.
Local businesses could struggle.
Amazon’s growth in Seattle hasn’t necessarily been good news for local businesses, many of which have closed to make way for companies more closely attuned to the company’s wealthier, white-collar worker.
“Amazon’s presence has fundamentally changed the city, according to Cynthia Brothers, a 36-year-old Seattle native,” reports Business Insider’s Leanna Garfield. “In recent years, she has noticed that coffee shops, grocers, restaurants, and bars beloved by locals are increasingly shutting down to make way for upscale redevelopments.”