‘Change is good’: Small businesses in Long Island City see promises of Amazon’s impending arrival

Photo by Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech

Amazon offices in Long Island City mean business for a number of stores and restaurants on one of the area’s main roadways, Vernon Boulevard.

“Change is good,” said owner of Centro Pizza Bar & Italian Kitchen Steve LoGiudice.

According to LoGiudice, business so far for his restaurant, located at 47-23 Vernon Blvd., has been good since it opened roughly a year ago. Amazon’s trickling arrival in the neighboring Anable Basin area will only make things better.

“[The] increase in local foot traffic will help all business,” said LoGiudice.

Many of the businesses, especially restaurants, on Vernon Boulevard share LoGiudice’s sentiments, recognizing that all of the 25,000 Amazon employees expected to arrive over the next several years will need to eat, drink, go the pharmacy, bring their kids to the doctor and have their pets groomed.

Growth is inevitable and to some fighting against is a battle that has already been lost.

“Change is happening by the hour,” said Meir Newman of Sinks & Stones, a tile and stone store. “This isn’t LIC anymore, its an extension of Manhattan.”

Long Island City has been in the midst of a residential real estate boom for the last several years, with over 12,000 apartments having been added to the neighborhood between 2010 and 2016, according to reporting from Curbed NY.

The neighborhood has even been called the fastest growing neighborhood in the United States. And with Amazon opening a hub in the neighborhood, growth is going to be expedited.

But development literally comes with a price. Although a high number of businesses on Vernon Boulevard stated that they were excited by the prospects of Amazon coming into the area, they recognize a downside. Some say the rent will only get more expensive.

“Of course the landlords will spike up the rent,” said the general manager of Woodbines Craft Beer and Kitchen Bob Bryan Stack. “So would you if you had a building here.”

But Stack is confident that the revenue made from the increased business brought in by Amazon will help soften the blow of a rent spike.

According to an email that a representative from Amazon sent QNS, Amazon’s presence in Seattle has proved beneficial.

“Amazon has invested over $4 billion in Seattle since 2010 and created over 45,000 direct jobs. These investments have created an additional 53,000 indirect jobs in the city and added an additional $38 billion into the city’s economy,” the representative said in the email.

But others doing in business in Long Island City have some skepticism.

For Yung, a Korean immigrant and co-owner of Glory Deli, the fear of being priced out after 24 years of business is very real.

But only time will tell what Amazon’s impact on businesses will be.

“I think its going to be pretty good for lunchtime especially — well, that’s what we hope,”said Dariza Jansen, a waitress at Madera Cuban Grill, about the arriving Amazon employees.

According to Jansen, Madera believes that Amazon will help save the restaurant from slow business on weekdays.

“There is a lot of competition around here so it really just depends on what they like,” she said.

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