Amazon ditches New York headquarters

Amazon ditches New York headquarters
Amazon says it will not be building a new headquarters in New York, a stunning reversal after a yearlong search. (Source: Eric Risberg)

By JOSEPH PISANI, AP Retail Writer

Amazon cancels New York headquarters plans

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon will not build a new headquarters in New York City, a stunning reversal to an ambitious plan that would have brought an estimated 25,000 jobs to the city.

The online retailer faced fierce opposition from some New York politicians who were unhappy with the nearly $3 billion in tax incentives Amazon was promised. Along with thousands of jobs, the Seattle company had planned to spend $2.5 billion building its new offices.

“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion — we love New York,” the company said in a blog post, adding that it already has 5,000 employees in the city and plans to grow those teams.

It was a serious blow to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who lobbied intensely to land the campus within city limits.

Critics see the project as an extravagant giveaway to one of the world's biggest companies and argue it won't provide much direct benefit to most New Yorkers. Several welcomed the news that Amazon might be rethinking the plan.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement that despite Amazon’s HQ reversal, “New York City is the world’s best place to do business. I hope this is the start of a conversation on vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent. I know I’d choose mass transit over helipads any day.”

But the plan has strong support from the population as a whole.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in December found New York City voters support having an Amazon headquarters, by 57-26 percent. But they were divided on the incentives: 46 percent in favor, 44 percent against.

Amazon said Thursday it does not plan to look for another location at this time, and will continue with plans to build offices in Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee. The Arlington campus was expected to be the same size as the New York one, with 25,000 employees. The Nashville office is expected to have 5,000 employees.

Groups opposed to the arrival of Amazon cheered the announcement.

“This announcement marks a landmark victory for our communities and shows the power of the people, even when taking on the world’s richest man,” said Deborah Axt, co-executive director of the anti-poverty group Make the Road New York. “Our members and allies stood firm against Governor Cuomo’s plan to give away more than $3 billion in taxpayer giveaways so that Amazon could force its empire-building on our neighborhoods.”

Some politicians took the opportunity to tout their own states, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who urged CEO Jeff Bezos to build a HQ in South Carolina.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved. Gray Television Group, Inc., contributed to this report.