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NYC’s Amazon HQ2 bid names Midtown West, Long Island City as possible sites

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The city really, really, really wants Amazon in New York

Hudson Yards.
Curbed Flickr Pool/NYConstructionPhoto

It’s official: the New York City Economic Development Corporation announced that the city has submitted a bid for Amazon’s HQ2, naming four different neighborhoods as having the potential to accommodate the Seattle tech megacompany’s second North American headquarters. The release coincided with NYC landmarks, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, being lit “Amazon Orange” in celebration of the bid.

The neighborhoods named in the city’s proposal will likely come as no surprise: Midtown West, the Financial District, Long Island City, and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle (the area encompassing DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yards, and Downtown Brooklyn).

“The case for New York City is simple: we are the global capital of commerce, culture and innovation,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a letter to Amazon head Jeff Bezos, which was submitted along with the proposal. “No city has a greater diversity of talent, of industries, and of collisions that fuel great ideas and companies.”

The bid also included a letter from dozens of elected officials, including Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, every borough president, and multiple city council and state assembly members, all of whom endorsed the bid. Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed it as part of his larger push for Amazon to move to New York State, period; in his letter to Bezos, he namechecks the Erie Canal and notes that “commercial innovation is embedded in New York's DNA.”

Amazon’s request for proposals (RFP), which was released on September 7, called for bidding cities to have a metropolitan area of more than 1 million people, a “stable and business-friendly environment,” close proximity to airports and mass transit, near plenty of universities, and a possible site size of around 8 million square feet. And many cities responded; nearly every major American metropolis, along with a few Canadian ones, made the case (though only one town, in Georgia, said it would change its name to “Amazon” to lure the company).

The NYCEDC issued its own request for expressions of interest (RFEI) the following week to suss out willing participants for an official bid; dozens of responses, including ones endorsed by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams came in, but the city ultimately culled the potential sites down to four.

“Our ‘Brooklyn Prime’ campaign, without a doubt, has been an energizing catalyst for this bid,” Adams said in a statement. “Its message rings loud and clear that Brooklyn is a prime destination for Amazon and any other enterprise looking to invest in their future, as well as the future of inclusive economic development that benefits all in our borough.”

The four neighborhoods named each have their own distinct advantages; Midtown West, for example, has the most available space (an estimated 26 million square feet in megaprojects like Hudson Yards and Manhattan West, along with other office buildings); the Brooklyn site is close to to parks and 13 subway lines; Long Island City, meanwhile, has real estate “at price points that compare favorably with commercial centers across the five boroughs.”

Another possible lure for Amazon: the fact that the company already has a large, if spread-out, footprint in the city. It recently signed a lease for 360,000 square feet in Manhattan West, and announced that it will open a 855,000-square-foot distribution center in Staten Island.

But the bid does have its critics: a diverse group of community organizations—including Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and Showing Up for Racial Justice—sent a letter to De Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo this week, stating that “Amazon should not receive sales tax exemptions, property tax abatements, corporate income tax credits, or any other state or local financial incentives, period.”

“If Amazon is going to continue to grow its operations across New York City and State, it must improve its business model and its treatment of communities and workers,” the letter continued. “You should be pushing Amazon to make long-term investments in New York that strengthen residents and neighborhoods, instead of undermining them.” Opponents of the bid also protested at City Hall on Monday.

For now, it’s a waiting game—Amazon isn’t expected to announce its choice for HQ2 until next year. Other New York regions have also submitted bids, including a joint proposal from Buffalo and Rochester.