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How did NYC woo Amazon to Long Island City?

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The city has made public its bid for Amazon’s HQ2

Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

Since Amazon announced last month that it would split its much-publicized second North American headquarters between two municipalities—Long Island City in New York and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia—lawmakers and the general public have been clamoring for a look at the proposals that wooed the tech giant to those cities.

Now, New York has delivered: The NYC Economic Development Corporation has launched a website for HQ2 in NYC, and along with that, has made public the city and state’s proposal for the New York metro area (which includes Long Island and the Hudson Valley).

And it’s a doozy: Originally, the city and state had pitched four different NYC neighborhoods—the “Brooklyn Tech Triangle,” Midtown West, the Financial District, and Long Island City (the eventual winner)—and sites for Amazon’s campus, and the proposal touts the reasons why each one, and the city at large, is the best option for the company. (Plenty of office space! Access to transit! A diverse talent pool! Innovation! We have Hamilton!)

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

But there are also plenty of sweeteners pitched for each particular neighborhood—take a look at some of the biggest (and most WTF) takeaways below.

Governors Island is pitched as an “island retreat.”

“Just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the city, Governors Island beckons as an island retreat for Amazon to expand beyond HQ2,” the proposal reads. In addition to touting the island’s “fast, frequent ferry service” (and dragging out the idea of an aerial gondola), the proposal suggests nine different sites that Amazon could occupy on Governors Island, including potential work spaces, an event space in the currently off-limits Officers’ Club, and an “Amazon Cooperative” in the historic houses near Nolan Park.

These renderings.


Long Island City has multiple expansion opportunities for a “connected mixed-use campus.”

According to the proposal, there’s the potential to “expand to over 8 million square feet within a few short blocks” around Queens Plaza and Court Square, in addition to the possible 6 million square feet that’s close to the waterfront that Amazon is already expected to use. In total, the city cites two dozen potential sites where Amazon could set up shop in the neighborhood.

And while Sunnyside Yards isn’t mentioned by name, there is this: “Decking over portions of existing large railyards can accommodate commercial and residential expansion, open space, and improved circulation as an option for long-term growth.”

Transit is a big factor, and the word “subway” appears 41 times; the word “ferry” appears 39 times.

“Bike” shows up 30 times; “BQX,” just once.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no mention of the subway system’s myriad issues (or even successes, like signal modernization on the 7 line, which will be a boon to Amazon in the future).

These stats: “[Long Island City] is home to 170,000 residents, with 8,000 additional housing units to be completed by the end of 2018 and another 11,000 units in 2019 and beyond.”

The report also notes that the metro area’s median rent—taking into account all of the available housing stock (more than 3.6 million rental units), as well as locales in Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley—is $1,290/month, which is lower than competitors like San Francisco and Washington, D.C.