By Bill Parry
Queens wants in on what is being called one of the biggest economic development deals of the century, the location for Amazon’s second headquarters.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz fired off a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio last week urging him to propose Long Island City in response to Amazon’s Request For Proposal in a bid for the e-commerce behemoth’s $5 billion investment it says would create 50,000 jobs.
“Queens is the ideal metropolitan environment for Amazon to expand its footprint,” Katz wrote the mayor. “Queens is also home to John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports, the key driver of our region’s economy, generating $52.9 billion in economic impact annually.”
To support LIC’s opportunity, Katz’s office just completed a strategic plan for the equitable growth of the tech ecosystem of the area, creating an urban community that “thinks big and creatively” about tech and innovation.
“LIC is New York City’s best chance of attracting Amazon’s HQ2 to the region,” Katz said, mentioning the area’s 7 million square feet of available commercial and industrial space, its proximity to the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island and the ability to meet all building requirements outlined in Amazon’s RFP.
“As the city’s leaders in economic development come together to propose a location to submit to Amazon for its HQ2, it is clear LIC is the only choice,” Katz concluded.
So far, the city has received more than two dozen proposals covering more than 50 million square feet in 23 neighborhoods in all five boroughs, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Amazon has requested that cities identify sites that could provide at least 500,000 square feet of commercial space by 2019 and up to 800,000 square feet beyond 2027.
“We’ve gotten strong responses from all five boroughs,” de Blasio said. “There’s no question New York City will make a powerful case to bring these jobs here.”
More than 40 organizations and developers contributed to responses, demonstrating New Yorkers’ willingness to band together in order to attract Amazon.
The city will review each proposal in the coming days and is closely coordinating this effort with the state of New York. The city will present its proposal to Amazon by Oct. 19.
“We know New York is the only city that can immediately meet Amazon’s needs for 50,000 of the most talented workers in the world,” NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett said. “Now we know that New York can choose from dozens of potential headquarters sites with over 50 million square feet of office space to make the strongest possible bid. No other city in North America has the space, the ingenuity, or the energy that we can offer Amazon.”
But other cities that are working on proposals, such as Philadelphia, San Francisco and Detroit, may be able to present more of a sweetheart deal to Amazon in exchange for its investment. However, de Blasio told reporters Monday there are limitations.
“We, as you know, do not believe in the traditional forms of subsidy,” he said. “There are some state subsidies that are available, there are some specific things by law that anyone would be allowed to tap into, but we will not provide traditional add-on economic subsidies, that’s not something we believe in.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr