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Why is Amazon leaving New York City?

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Amazon is reconsidering building one of its new headquarters in New York due to local opposition, including from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Washington Post reported Friday.

After a nearly year-long search, Amazon in November selected the Long Island City neighborhood of New York City and the National Landing neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, as the two sites for its East Coast headquarters. The announcement was met almost immediately with protest by some New York officials and residents who feared Amazon would take over the Queens neighborhood, drive up prices and and push out existing residents.

Each of the new headquarters is intended to house 25,000 Amazon employees.

Asked for comment on the report, an Amazon spokesperson did not address if the company is reconsidering its plans to build an office in Long Island City.

“We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors — small business owners, educators, and community leaders,” the Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

“Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”

Later Friday, The New York Times pushed back slightly on the original Washington Post report. The Times reported Amazon executives were frustrated with the local protests and concerned about a possible veto of the deal at the state level, but had no intention to back out of the plans.

Democrat Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx and parts of Queens, opposed the project because of the potential displacement of families. She cheered the Post’s report.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the deal during an unrelated press conference Friday, saying: “We have to make Amazon a reality.”

“For the state Senate to oppose Amazon was governmental malpractice. And if they stop Amazon from coming to New York, they’re going to have the people of New York state to explain it to,” Cuomo said.

“It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy. You’re not there to play politics. You’re there to do what’s right for the people of New York, and what they did here was wrong.”

The state’s agreement with Amazon guaranteed $27 billion in revenue for New York with $3 billion returned to Amazon in tax credits, Cuomo said. He called the deal the largest economic development project signed in the state’s history.

“There is no business that brings 25,000 jobs anymore. They don’t exist. I spend days trying to bring a business that has 100 jobs or 200 jobs,” he said. “Every project has local opposition. … People just oppose change.”

Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were early champions of the deal to move Amazon in, arguing it would bring jobs and economic investment to the city. Representatives for the city did not immediately return requests for comment on the report by the Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

 

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