Amazon is canceling plans to build a new headquarters in New York City, the company said Feb. 14, which also happens to be Valentine’s Day.
The surprise breakup comes after the e-commerce giant faced significant pushback from local politicians over its plan to build a massive development in Long Island City, a rapidly revitalizing, formerly industrial neighborhood of Queens directly across the East River from midtown Manhattan.
“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” Amazon said in a statement posted to its website. “While polls show that 70% 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 company said it doesn’t plan to reopen its search for a headquarters site, and will proceed with planned investments in Northern Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee.
Amazon in November selected Long Island City and Crystal City in Northern Virginia as the two sites for its next North American headquarters. The announcement concluded a yearlong, game-show-like contest in which cities vied to win Amazon’s blessing for a headquarters it said would come with 50,000 high-paying jobs. Amazon said in November that it would split those jobs evenly between New York and Virginia, and also announced it would open an operations center with 5,000 jobs in Nashville.
But the promised jobs failed to impress some New York City politicians and residents, who felt the city and state offered Amazon an unreasonable amount of financial incentives to bring its headquarters to Long Island City and that the process was done without public review or input. New York promised the e-commerce giant up to $3 billion in city and state incentives, including as much as $1.2 billion in refundable tax credits through the state’s Excelsior Program. Amazon was also ridiculed for a plan to construct a helipad for CEO Jeff Bezos to chopper into the development site.
The headquarters was touted as a major win by New York governor Andrew Cuomo and city mayor Bill de Blasio in a rare show of alliance. It also received majority support from state, city, and even union household voters in a recent Siena College poll. But the company was intensely criticized by several members of New York City council, a handful of labor unions, the state senator representing Long Island City, and firebrand congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
At a city council hearing in late January, Amazon vice president for public policy Brian Huseman offered what seemed like a veiled threat. “We were invited to come to New York, and we want to invest in a community that wants us,” he said.