While Amazon has long since ditched its ambitious, controversial plan to build a new campus in Long Island City, the tech behemoth is still making NYC real estate developers salivate. The NY Post reports that the biggest company in the world is considering renting space in new towers a block west of Penn Station: One Manhattan West and the adjacent Two Manhattan West, which is under construction.
Last November, after a long, public beauty contest, Amazon announced its intention to create 25,000 new jobs in LIC, a decision sweetened by up to $1.5 billion in New York state subsidies. (It also announced it would build another campus outside of Washington D.C. in Crystal City, Virginia.) But opposition to the deal from activists and some lawmakers, who complained about the closed process, anti-union tactics, and lack of outreach from Amazon, prompted Amazon to scuttle the LIC plans in February. Finger-pointing about who made Amazon cry and take their ball home ensued.
However, Amazon still employs thousands of people in NYC, because they want to attract top talent and many of those people want to live in... NYC. According to the Post:
The online retailer is seeking “at least 100,000 square feet or much more” — just to start, one well-placed source said.
Amazon, which already has 5,000 workers in NYC, had been “seriously” looking at Two Manhattan West prior to choosing Long Island City in November, a second source said. “That interest has returned over the last few weeks,” the source added.
Brookfield, which owns the two Manhattan West towers (and another at 5 Manhattan West where Amazon is already a tenant), denied through a spokesman that it was leasing to the Seattle company. But multiple sources pointed to the company’s strict confidentiality agreements as a potential reason.
“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.
At Two Manhattan West, Amazon is eyeing space at the top the tower, sources said. The only issue is the building, to be located on 31st Street and 9th Ave., won’t be ready for tenants until 2022.
Brookfield Properties owns One and Two Manhattan West, but Amazon is reportedly "also considering space in the US Post Office building across the street, known as the James A. Farley building — a Vornado development that will boast office space across five levels and will be ready for tenants next May, sources said."
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who referred to himself "Amazon Cuomo" during the bidding, called Amazon's premature withdrawal "the greatest tragedy that I have seen since I have been in government." Cuomo then seized "control of an obscure public authorities board" that could have made things difficult if Amazon had tried to get final approval for the deal from NY State.
Even if Amazon rents hundreds of square feet in Midtown West, it's not really a big deal for NYC in the eyes of Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wilde, since that part of Manhattan is so built up, unlike LIC. She told the Post, "Frankly, that kind of activity gets lost in Manhattan."
Meanwhile, there's another kind of development to which Amazon is contributing: UPS needs a bigger warehouse for all the products New Yorkers are ordering... so the company suddenly began demolition on an 1880s waterfront factory in Red Hook over the holiday weekend.
Update: An Amazon spokesperson said, "Thanks for reaching out! We don’t comment on rumors or speculation."
On the other hand, Amazon has a lot of office space in New York City and its real estate executives, like those at other large companies, probably have constant conversations with real estate firms and developers about how to maximize and/or optimize their space. Think Google and their steady acquisition of Manhattan office space.