Amazon canceled its New York City HQ2 plans. Here’s everything we know about how the massive deal unravelled.

  • Amazon announced on Thursday that it had canceled its plan to open an HQ2 in New York City.
  • The decision came after months of backlash from some New Yorkers and local politicians.
  • Here’s a step-by-step look at how Amazon’s New York HQ2 plans fell apart.

Amazon’s much-hyped and frequently criticised New York City HQ2 plans have been canceled.

On Thursday, the e-commerce giant announced it would not build a headquarters in the Long Island City neighbourhood of Queens.

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“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,” the company said in a blog post.

While there had been reports that Amazon was reconsidering building HQ2 in New York following local backlash, the announcement came as a shock to many.

Here’s everything we know about how the HQ2 deal fell apart.

Amazon’s headquarters are in Seattle, employing more than 45,000 workers.

However, in 2017, Amazon announced it was on the hunt for a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the 2017 Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Amazon said the new headquarters would bring 50,000 new jobs and a $US5 billion investment.

Amazon received 238 proposals as cities across North America tried to win over the e-commerce giant.

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In January 2018, Amazon revealed its shortlist of 20 regions.

Atlanta, Georgia, was an HQ2 finalist. Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

The list of candidates included Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia; and New York.

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After months of deliberation and rumours, Amazon announced in November 2018 that it would actually split the second headquarters between New York and Virginia.

National Landing, a newly formed area in Northern Virginia, won half of the HQ2 crown. Shutterstock

One office would be in the Long Island City neighbourhood of Queens, New York, and the other would be in National Landing, a newly formed area in Northern Virginia. Amazon said each headquarters would receive roughly 25,000 new jobs.

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New York’s HQ2 bid was strongly supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” Cuomo told reporters at an event in November, hours before a report surfaced saying that Amazon would soon announce its HQ2 plans.

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However, while Virginians and local politicians reacted mostly positively to the news, New Yorkers were less optimistic about HQ2.

Amazon’s plans raised concerns that the second headquarters could increase homelessness rates, send rents skyrocketing, paralyse public transportation, and create other problems for residents.

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New York politicians began speaking out against Amazon’s HQ2 plans almost immediately after plans to develop the headquarters in Queens were announced.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a vocal critic of Amazon’s HQ2 plans. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

“Amazon is a billion-dollar company,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in November. “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.”

“Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong,” City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer and state Sen. Michael Gianaris, both of whom represent Long Island City, said in a scathing joint statement.

“We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones,” they added.

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A proposed $US3 billion in tax incentives infuriated politicians and New Yorkers.


The state and the city offered up to $US3 billion in tax incentives to persuade Amazon to build its second headquarters in New York. A December poll found that 46% of New Yorkers said they supported the incentives, while 44% said they opposed it citywide.

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In late November, protesters stormed an Amazon Books store in Manhattan.


Armed with signs and “F— Off Amazon!: A Black Friday Action Songbook,” protesters highlighted their concerns about the new headquarters.

Amazon was slammed in the first of a series of planned hearings about Amazon’s HQ2 deal in December.


Protesters gathered outside New York’s City Hall before the hearing.

Van Bramer, the council’s deputy leader and the member whose district the new HQ2 project would have resided in, said in an opening statement that “we should all be concerned” given Amazon’s sometimes contentious relationship with the City Council in Seattle.

“I was not elected to be a cheerleader for Amazon, and neither was the mayor,” Van Bramer said, adding that Queens “must not become another Amazon company town.”

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In January, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told Business Insider that HQ2 was not “a done deal.”


“I don’t think anyone should assume that this is a fait accompli and that this is a done deal,” Johnson said. “This is the beginning of a process where the public and the City Council and other elected officials are going to continue to seek answers and understand whether or not this is a good deal for New York City, or if we got played.”

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Amazon began mailing New Yorkers ads touting the benefits of HQ2.


Many Queens residents received mailers from Amazon in early January. The front of one says “Amazon is investing in Long Island City,” and it includes a laundry list of what the tech giant said were the benefits it had agreed to bring to the area.

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In late January, Amazon unveiled new plans to win over New Yorkers.

In another New York City Council meeting, Amazon pledged to reach out to small businesses, offer customer-service jobs to residents of local public-housing developments, and work on secondary- and higher-education initiatives.

“We were invited to come to New York, and we want to invest in a community that wants us,” Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, said in prepared remarks. “That’s why we’re excited to announce several new developments since we were last before the City Council.”

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In early February, news broke that a noted Amazon critic had been nominated for a position in which he could veto HQ2.


The New York Senate leader nominated Gianaris, a vocal opponent of HQ2, for a seat on the New York State Public Authorities Control Board. While he has not been confirmed to the position, Gianaris could have vetoed financing and construction of Amazon’s campus.

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On February 8, The Washington Post reported that Amazon was reconsidering its plan to open a campus in New York.


“The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia and Nashville have been so welcoming,” a person familiar with Amazon’s plans told The Post.

On February 14, it was official: Amazon had canceled New York’s HQ2.


Amazon said it made the decision because “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.”