Today Amazon has confirmed that they will split their HQ2 between Long Island City and northern Virginia. The news that Amazon is coming to queens has had mixed reactions. We all know about the 25,000 jobs that this will bring to the area, however concerns over tax avoidance and other fears continue to linger. Prior to Amazons arrival, Long Island City which has historically been a location that was relatively affordable for its proximity to midtown Manhattan has recently seen property values skyrocket.
1. Affordable Housing: The once mostly industrial area has seen major development move in recently with little focus on affordable housing or giving back to the existing community. Some feel that the $5 million investment in nearby Queensbridge Houses (the largest housing project in America) doesn’t go far enough.
2. Traffic Concerns: The already maxed out subway 7 line will be further over crowded. The existing road infrastructure is also passed capacity with no room for any more buses, cars and trucks. Will DeBlasio start the proposed light rail B.Q.X. from Brooklyn to Queens that has been talked about for some time. If you have ever made a delivery to L.I.C. you already know it’s not fun.
3. Gentrification: There needs to be a conscious effort between the city, state officials and developers to make sure that there is not the level of gentrification that happened in neighboring Brooklyn during its growth. Queens has long been a melting pot of the world with a large immigrant population. Did you know that Queens is one of only a few places in America where almost yearly the average black households makes more than the average white household. Say goodbye to neighborhood bodegas and say hello to people kissing dogs in their mouths and macaroon shops.
4. Taxes: Amazon will be operating without paying the taxes that you and I would be responsible paying if we started a company or a moved a company to L.I.C. Corporate welfare is not fair to the tax paying residents of New York City. The news that Cuomo and DeBlasio gave $1.5 billion in incentives is not going to go over well with New Yorkers.
5. Overcrowded: Too many damn people. Even if the 7 line is running without a delay and magically everyone starting biking into Manhattan, that still doesn’t account for the 25,000 + people who will work there nor does it account for the wave of new residents that were already moving to L.I.C. before the Amazon river ran through it.
6. We’re Okay: In nearly every metric Queens and more specifically Long Island City is doing well. It’s not like we are Detroit, falling into some huge depression with abandoned buildings and urban neglect. Location, location, location. Queens is self sustainable as a borough and surrounded by Manhattan to the west and Brooklyn to the south. L.I.C. has been booming for a number of years and quite frankly doesn’t need Amazon. The 25,000 ($100,000 average) jobs is not really that impressive, most people who could qualify for those positions are already making that if not more.
7. Non-Union Labor: Amazon has a poor history of operating in the grey area of the law. They have carefully skirted around labor laws and are considered heavily anti-union. Many New Yorkers are fearful that Amazon will build their HQ2 with non-union and unqualified labor. The area has seen recently seen many non-union luxury condos popping up and doesn’t want another poorly constructed building in their neighborhood.
What are your biggest concerns for Long Island City and Queens in general?
Let us know in the comments below.