Amazon cancels plans to open offices in New York

Amazon on Thursday announced that it has canceled plans to open its second headquarters, dubbed "HQ2," in New York City following aggressive pushback from some local lawmakers and activists. 

"After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

"While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City," the statement from Amazon said. 

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New York lawmakers, including progressive superstar Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSteve Bullock puts Citizens United decision at center of presidential push Fix the climate with smaller families Dem Sen. Markey faces potential primary challenge in Massachusetts MORE (D), for months have been drumming up resistance to Amazon's decision to bring half of its second headquarters to Queens.
 
The activists and politicians have raised concerns that Amazon's new headquarters would displace poor residents and raise rents. They have also sharply criticized New York City's decision to offer $3 billion in state and city incentives to lure in Amazon.  
 
"We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion," Amazon said in its statement, noting that it intends to continue growing the group of 5,000 employees already in New York City.
 
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), however, had both hailed Amazon's second headquarters as an economic boon to the city, claiming it would attract significant investments and other tech companies.
 
"We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process," Amazon wrote. 
 
De Blasio issued a sharply worded statement after the announcement. "You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity," his office said.
 
Amazon had also aggravated New York politicians and union leaders when an executive at a City Council hearing said the company would not remain neutral if workers tried to unionize.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer earlier this week called New York City a "union town."

"They remarkably came to the City Council last week and declared not only would they not remain neutral when it came to efforts of their employees ... to organize but that they would actually fight to crush any effort of their employees to unionize," Bramer said. "This is a union town. I grew up in a union family. We've got to stand up for our values there."

Critics have blasted Amazon as a union-busting behemoth that mistreats its workers.

“Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers – that’s not what a responsible business would do,” Chelsea Connor, the communications director of the New York-based Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said in a statement.

The political stakes were raised in recent weeks when state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D), a vocal Amazon opponent, was chosen to sit on the board providing oversight of second headquarters. The board was tasked with deciding on the Amazon headquarters development plan and had the ability to veto the deal.

“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” Gianaris told The New York Times. “The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.’’

“Even by their own words,’’ he added pointing to their statement, “Amazon admits they will grow their presence in New York without their promised subsidies. So what was all this really about?”

The tech giant chose to split its headquarters between New York and Virginia last year following a months-long search in which it asked cities to offer up incentives packages, saying it would bring 25,000 new jobs to Queens. 
 
The company said on Thursday that it will not search for another location for the headquarters, adding that it will continue to push forward in its plan to build the other half of its headquarters in Virginia, where it has not received similar pushback. 

--This report was updated at 12:38 p.m.