After more than a year of fielding corporate subsidy offers and humiliating gestures from desperate elected officials, Amazon is reportedly nearing a final decision for its widely-hyped second headquarters. Except that it won't be a single headquarters at all. Instead, the company has reportedly decided to split up its massive second command post into two separate locations—with one half of HQ2 now very likely to land in our city.
The Wall Street Journal reports that New York City is one of three municipalities in the late stages of discussion with Amazon about the two-city plan, along with Dallas and Crystal City, Virginia. Sources also tell CNBC that the proposed workforce and investments could be split between Austin and Northern Virginia. Each site will have a workforce of 25,000, or half of what was initially promised.
It's unclear what part of the five boroughs would be expected to absorb Amazon's massive footprint, and the accompanying congestion and skyrocketing housing costs the company is known to bring. When Amazon released the original call for applications last September, property owners in 23 different neighborhoods—including Williamsburg and Sunset Park—cobbled together proposals at the request of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The state's economic development arm, which has doled out more corporate tax breaks than anywhere else in the country, has also made Amazon a generous subsidy offer—though it's unclear for how much.
In addition to dangling taypayer-funded incentives to a ridiculously wealthy corporation willing to change the terms of the deal at the last moment, the governor has also made this personal. On Monday, hours before the news of the split locations broke, Governor Andrew (for now) Cuomo announced his willingness to "change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes." Perhaps that's what sealed the deal?
The decision is expected to be announced as early as this week.
Update: The NY Times reported on Monday night that Amazon was poised to select Long Island City in Queens and Alexandria in Virginia has the co-HQ2 cities: "Amazon executives met two weeks ago with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the governor’s Manhattan office, said one of the people briefed on the process, adding that the state had offered potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies. Executives met separately with Mayor Bill de Blasio, a person briefed on that discussion said. Long Island City is a short subway ride across the East River from Midtown Manhattan."
An Amazon spokesperson would only comment, "We remain committed to making a decision before the end of the year."
In remarks given on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "There's no one except the people at Amazon who can say what they're going to decide. And I think everyone should be cautious about this. They've held their process very close to the vest. I've not been informed of any final decision. I don't know if it's going to be one city, two cities—I have no idea. You'll have to ask Amazon that."
He continued, "My team has been hard at work trying to show Amazon the advantages of being in New York City: why we have the strongest talent base in the whole country that they could be a part of, why we can make this location work. And look, for New York City, here's the important thing: it's not just tens of thousands more jobs. It's also that this consolidates New York City as an international tech hub. If this is achieved, I think it's the one last piece we've needed to really consolidate our position as a tech capital, and that's really important for the future of New York City."
Regarding Long Island City's infrastructure, the mayor said acknowledged the neighborhood is "going through a huge amount of development. We're working with the community and the councilman to make it work. We've been talking about additional infrastructure for LIC for a long time."
Reporting from Rhiannon Corby