Just when one thought life could not get any more bizarre, here comes the world’s richest man to have a joke at everyone’s expense.
One day after the WaPo reported that Northern Virginia’s Crystal City was in advanced talks with Amazon for the online retail giant’s second headquarters – at the same time as the Wall Street Journal said not only Crystal City but also Dallas and New York City were in late-stage discussions with the company – and just hours after the WSJ also reported that Amazon plans to split its second headquarters evenly between two cities instead of picking one winner, the NYT reported late on Monday that Amazon is nearing a deal to move to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens.
And confirming the WaPo’s previous report (because if anyone should know the answer it the newspaper that is owned by Jeff Bezos), the NYT also said that Amazon is close to a deal to move to the Crystal City area of Arlington, Va..
Why these two east coast venues? Because, according to the gray lady, Amazon already has more employees in those two areas than anywhere else outside of Seattle, its home base, and the Bay Area.
Naturally, since Amazon would never have picked either location without some incentives, the NY Times reports that ahead of the decision to pick LIC – which is a short subway ride from Midtown Manhattan – Amazon executives met two weeks ago with NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the governor’s Manhattan office, with the state offering “potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies.”
“I am doing everything I can,” Governor Cuomo told reporters when asked Monday about the state’s efforts to lure the company. “We have a great incentive package,” he said.
Unlike the prince of Zamunda who ended up in Queens in search for a bride, Bezos is already happily married and what has been the reported driving force behind the search – and the decision – was the need to hire tens of thousands of high-tech workers, leading many to expect it to land in a major East Coast metropolitan area. Many experts have pointed to Crystal City as a front-runner, because of its strong public transit, educated work force and proximity to Washington.
For those very reasons, almost nobody picked Long Island City, which has been said to have “affordable housing, robust infrastructure, terrific airports, short commutes, business friendly local government” one with an overdose of sarcasm.
If Bezos does pick Long Island City, the transition could be seamless: Amazon already employs 1,800 people in advertising, fashion and publishing in New York, and roughly 2,500 corporate and technical employees work in Northern Virginia and Washington.
Now the question is whether Queens residents will be excited to learn that a new tenant is coming, one which will dramatically transform the city landscape and infrastructure on day one
“HQ2 would be “full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” the company said. If Amazon goes ahead with two new sites, it is unclear whether the company would refer to both of the locations as headquarters or if they would amount to large satellite offices.
Meanwhile, those wondering why Bezos decided not on one but two HQ2s, the answer is simple: money.
Picking multiple sites would allow it to tap into two pools of talented labor and perhaps avoid being blamed for all of the housing and traffic woes of dominating a single area. It could also give the company greater leverage in negotiating tax incentives, experts said.
And now comes the bad side: as Amazon’s search dragged on, residents in many of 20 finalist cities worried about the impact such a massive project could have on housing and traffic, as well as what potential tax incentives could cost the community.
And New Yorkers, already tormented by some of the highest taxes in the nation, are about to find out, which is why Jeff Bezos may find the locals less than hospitable even before the foundations are laid.
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