The HQ2 Battle Nears an End: New Amazon Hub Will Split Between 2 Cities

by | November 6, 2018

By Zachary R. Dowdy and Michael Gormley

Amazon, the Seattle-based electronic commerce and cloud computing giant that has been searching for a second base of operations is finalizing plans to split its new hub between two East Coast cities -- Crystal City, Virginia, and Long Island City, Queens, according to published reports.

The New York Times and other outlets are reporting that Amazon decided to use the two locations to house 50,000 employees, ending speculation and serenades over the past year by politicians in major cities -- including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo -- to add one of the nation's most prosperous employers and its employees to their tax rolls.

Cuomo met with Amazon in his Manhattan office two weeks ago, a state source said, adding that he proposed Long Island City and stressing that the Queens location is a finalist, but not chosen yet by Amazon.

"I am doing everything I can," Cuomo told reporters when asked Monday about the state's efforts to lure the company, the Times reported. "We have a great incentive package," he said.

The source said the state government is ready to make a substantial offer for Amazon to seal the deal.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment late Monday night. A spokesman for Empire State Development, the state's primary business-aid agency, also declined to comment Monday night.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said his union is concerned about the use of taxpayer subsidies for Amazon to move to New York City.

"Amazon, one of the wealthiest and largest companies in history, needs the city more than the city needs Amazon -- plain and simple," Applebaum said in a statement. "If Amazon wants to come here they can afford to do so on their own."

The Times report said Amazon is close to a deal to establish ties in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia, a Washington suburb, and that the company already has more employees in these two areas than anywhere else outside of its headquarters in Seattle.

Long Island City is part of a larger downstate application by the state to Amazon that also included Long Island. In January, Amazon said the metropolitan region, including Long Island, was among 20 finalists for the company's second headquarters.

The bid from the metropolitan area includes New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, and was assembled by the state. It includes three local building sites: Belmont Park in Elmont, the proposed Heartland mini-city development in Brentwood and Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley, officials told Newsday  in January.

There was no immediate comment from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In recent years, Long Island City has lured a number of high-profile companies. Last year, Altice USA, the cable television, internet and telephone services provider, moved its headquarters from Bethpage to Long Island City. And last week, cosmetics giant The Estee Lauder Cos. opened a technology center there, moving  some information technology jobs from its Melville operation.

Both Altice and Estee executives said they wanted to tap into Long Island City's pool of young tech workers.

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