New York Daily News
Amazon’s love’s labor’s lost
New York’s heart was broken on Valentine’s Day in 2019, when Jeff Bezos, tired of being attacked by self-serving politicians, canceled Amazon’s planned headquarters for a barren stretch along the East River in Long Island
The quartet that caused Bezos to abandon Queens and 25,000 good-paying jobs (which may have grown to 40,000 positions) were Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (then just a few weeks in office), state Sen. Mike Gianaris (then and now, the No. 2 in the Senate), the former local Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and ex-Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
If the deal had gone through, there would be 11,900 jobs in place, an increase of 4,000 from when we lamented this 365 days ago. But in fact, there are zero new jobs on the parcel and the one pre-existing place, the Plaxall plastics factory, has now closed, so the jobs tally is now negative.
As for the destructive pols, they are doing just fine. AOC’s congressional pay is $174,000. Gianaris makes $142,000 a year, thanks to a new raise. Van Bramer is an executive at the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, where he may actually be making more than his Council salary of $148,500 a year. Finally, we’re sure that well-heeled lobbyist Johnson is doing better than the speaker’s $164,500.
They promised that if Amazon fell through, there would be other jobs. It did and there weren’t. What there was was a pandemic. So Alexandria, Mike, Jimmy and Corey, you still owe us 11,900 jobs.
Until Bezos pulled the plug, it was a dream come true. The always-warring Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio had united in brotherly harmony to win the sweepstakes from among 238 bidders. There would be some tax breaks, but only after Amazon had paid billions in taxes. So the tax breaks, which caused the consternation, are gone, but so are the taxes, leaving us poorer in both cash and jobs.
And yes, the tech sector has seen layoffs. There have been a great many let go from Amazon, with 18,000 people getting pink slips. But that’s out of a total headcount 1.5 million, or about 1.2%. If we had finalized the Queens deal, the same 1.2% reduction would have cost 143 jobs in Long Island City, leaving a balance of 11,757. That’s 11,757 more jobs than the site now has.
Instead of 4 million square feet of office space (and maybe twice that), there is nothing. Related has given up on the Paragon Building and the Blanchard Building that it fixed up in anticipation of the boom. But the brownfields do remain. As does the giant Board of Education building at Vernon Blvd. and 44th Drive which says engraved above its doorway, “City of New York, Dept of Purchase, Bureau of Stores.” A sign from the past. There is no future. Amazon was the future and Amazon was killed.