Last week, the usually-feuding Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio actually agreed on something.
The two appeared at a joint press conference to celebrate a deal to bring Amazon to Long Island City, as part of a long-in-the-works courtship in which cities all across the country made overtures to lure the online shipping monolith to set up shop. Arlington, Virginia – just across the river from Washington, D.C. – emerged as the other winning bidder for an Amazon “HQ2” location.
Amazon's presence in Long Island City is projected to bring 25,000 new jobs to the city, with median salaries of $150,000. “This plan that we all put together, we are convinced is going to benefit everyday New Yorkers in huge numbers – tens of thousands, and it's going to be something that really transforms people's lives,” De Blasio said at the press conference. "A lot of infrastructure spending has already been done in Long Island City. A lot is planned for Long Island City – over $2 billion more will keep coming in as more and more positive development occurs."
But the deal has not been without backlash for an array of reasons, including the near $3 billion that the city and state are giving the retail juggernaut in tax breaks; major transportation concerns; the lack of transparency behind the deal; and the skyrocketing cost of living all over the metro area, including Long Island City.
On Monday, the governor went on the defensive by releasing an op-ed on his website and appearing on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show to explain why the deal was good. On the tax break issue, Cuomo said that the city will see $9 in revenue for every dollar given in subsidies. He also said that it would benefit neighboring housing project Queensbridge Houses, where half of the families are unemployed and the average annual income is $24,000. He told Lehrer: “They [Amazon] have made specific representations to partner with the housing complex, to hire from the housing complex.” However, according to a WNYC story, thus far “Amazon has only agreed to hold job fairs and resume workshops at Queensbridge.”