‘They let us down’: Queens NYCHA reps blast Gianaris & Van Bramer for Amazon deal failure

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Photo by Mark Hallum

The presidents of the tenants’ associations representing 17,000 residents at four northwest Queens public housing complexes had rallied on Feb. 11 in support of Amazon’s plans to build its HQ2 campus in Long Island City just days after reports surfaced that the e-commerce giant was reconsidering the project.

Just three days later, Amazon officially pulled out of the project, blaming the lack of collaboration from local officials without naming names. The tenants’ association presidents, however, were quick to identify two officials to blame for the debacle.

The four presidents, Claudia Coger from the Astoria Houses, Annie Cotton Morris from the Woodside Houses, Carol Wilkins from the Ravenswood Houses and April Simpson from the Queensbridge Houses put out a joint statement that put the onus squarely on two of their elected representatives in government, state Senator Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

“From the beginning, grandstanding politicians who refused to be at the table dismissed the work of those of us who were. They put petty politics above true public service and they spread misinformation to whip up a small band of opponents. New York has now lost 25,000 good-paying jobs,” the presidents said. “The city and state will now lose tens of billions in revenue that could have been invested NYCHA, and the tenants we fight for every day.”

The four women had been appointed to seats on the 45-member Community Advisory Committee, an organization focused on Amazon’s new headquarters and the thousands of jobs the company promised to create benefitting their residents.

Van Bramer and Gianaris — who opposed the Amazon project after the deal was first announced last November — announced they would not participate in the CAC calling it a “thinly veiled attempt to present the Amazon development as a fait accompli” and give local validation to the project they we working to stop in its tracks.

“And now New York has now missed a generational opportunity to cement its place as the tech hub of the future. Jimmy Van Bramer and Mike Gianaris used to be the politicians we came to when we needed help,” they said. “This time they didn’t even talk to us. They never asked what we, the people of NYCHA, actually wanted. They put their own political interests above their constituents and did not meet with us or even listen to us.”

“The grandstanding politicians will try and blame Amazon and anyone but themselves for this disaster. Nobody should believe them, they let us down,” the joint statement concluded.

QNS reached out to the offices of Gianaris and Van Bramer for comment and is awaiting a response.