The tax incentives were tied to the creation of 25,000 to 40,000 potential jobs. Both Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo heralded the city’s selection following a high-profile nationwide bidding process. The unlikely allies both pointed fingers at Amazon, state Senate Democrats and other electeds for prompting the pullout.
The Valentine’s Day dumping, cheered by local opponents who danced into the night on Queens streets, left others in the Long Island City area less than enthused.
“You can’t expect one group to solve all the problems, but I thought that they would at least be able to contribute to the quality of life for our young people going forward,” said Claudia Coger, the president of the Astoria Houses Tenant Association. “I was a little disappointed.”
Residents of the sprawling Queensbridge Houses, blocks from the proposed high-tech campus, were perplexed by the whole process and asked why the company didn’t do more to engage the community.
“They should have had a meeting with everybody,” said resident Jackie Davis. “I would have given it a chance. I just feel it was politics.”
Chris Hanway, the executive director of Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, said he was and remains “pointedly neutral” in the debate and said he understood the skepticism.
“I do think an opportunity may have been lost in terms of potential jobs, improvements and opportunities for the community, but I’ll never know if that’s really the case because we didn’t have the opportunity to make as many requests and demands of Amazon as we would have liked and to see if they were really gonna hold true to their word,” he said.
However, Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the Long Island City Partnership, said the immediate losses were easy to tabulate, even if the company didn’t do a great job of informing the community. She said residents at NYCHA’s Queensbridge housing complex lost out on 30 jobs at an Amazon customer service center. The company was also going to partner with 130 city schools to teach students engineering, do the ground work of a cloud computing certification program at CUNY campuses and train city teachers to instruct kids in tech fields.
“This is an enormous loss. They had come out with some specific commitments,” she said. “Unfortunately, they [Amazon] weren’t very loud about this.”
Some politicos also expressed fear that Amazon’s reneging would telegraph the wrong message to other businesses.
“I hope this doesn’t dissuade tech companies, innovators and entrepreneurs from coming to Queens with good paying jobs and cutting-edge ideas,” added Assembly member Nily Rozic (D-Queens), whose district lies a few miles east of the proposed waterfront site.
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