Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, Blissville) said today while all the deals behind Amazon moving its’ second headquarters (HQ2) to Long Island City still haven’t been worked out, she believes the deal will ultimately be a large net gain for the borough and the city.
Nolan made her comments as added support to the city and state’s economic agencies heads, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President and CEO James Patchett (City) and Empire State Development (ESD) President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky (State), briefed local Queens media for an update about the agreement with Amazon.
Curiously absent from the press briefing held at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens in Long Island City were any officials from the principal involved – Amazon.
“I’m a 100 percent for moving forward on this. Working with the governor and the mayor can achieve a lot of things,” said Nolan, noting it is a good sign that Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio – long known to having an acrimonious relationship – both agreed the deal was a net positive for the city and state.
Nolan did note she was against the city and state providing a heliport for Amazon executives as part of the deal and said she thinks the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will never go for another heliport in the city anyway.
The lawmaker also noted that for years the area needed other services and that they might now be incorporated into the Amazon deal. This includes a complete review of the local fire service making note the closure of the FDNY fire company that closed ti Dutch Kills has never been replaced.
Additionally, there is a need for a hospital in Western Queens, more urgent care centers, mental health services, a new police precicnt and the Astoria Houses needs a new community center, Nolan said.
“I’m not loving all of this (HQ2) and there’s a lot of frustration, but hopefully it will bring a new momentum,” said Nolan, adding the expectations are that there will be constant amendments to the General Project Plan (GPP).
As it now stands the GPP has Amazon occupying up to 500,000 square feet at One Court Square, beginning its New York City expansion with at least 700 new jobs in 2019, reaching nearly 3,000 in 2020.
New buildings will be constructed around Anable Basin, including sites owned by Plaxall, a local family-owned industrial business, and others city-owned parcels including a Department of Education back office facility site located on Vernon Boulevard. Plaxall will retain two of its sites, which it will advance as a companion project to Amazon’s. Plaxall’s project could be mixed use or entirely commercial.
The new headquarters project will move through a state and city GPP process used to advance large development projects of shared interest. This process includes a formal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), public engagement and review.
Patchett noted that tech jobs is expected to drive all future employment sectors and HQ2 will create 25,000 good-paying jobs over 10 years, rising to 40,000 over 15 years.
Patchett and Zemsky also noted the city was 238 municipalities competing for HQ2 and other city’s offered much more to Amazon in terms of subsidies and benefits.
They also noted Amazon has committed to several community benefit projects such as an on-site workforce development employment and training center, modeled
on the successful Brooklyn Navy Yard Employment Center, to actively recruit in the Long Island City community.
Amazon, the city and the state will each commit $5M ($15M total) to develop new programs to train nontraditional populations. The city will expand its successful JobsPlus program to Queensbridge Houses, which assists with job searching and placement and provides financial incentives for employment. The $10M expansion
will train and place 1,500 Queensbridge residents in good jobs over the next ten years.
Additionally, the city will launch a new, Queens-focused program to train local NYCHA residents for careers in IT, cybersecurity, and web development. The $3-5 million commitment over the next decade will serve 200-300 residents.
Other benefits touted at the meeting included Amazon donating space for a new 600-seat school. The company will also build 3.5 acres of newly publicly accessible waterfront open space at Anable Basin, which will connect Gantry State Park and Hunters Point South Park and form a contiguous waterfront park extending south to Newtown Creek.
Patchett and Zemsky said HQ2 is projected to deliver an overall economic impact for the state of over $186 billion over the next 25 years based on Amazon reaching 40,000 new jobs, including over $14B in tax returns to the state and over $13.5B in returns to the city.
In return the state has offered a package of performance-based incentives totaling $1.705 billion. This includes $1.2 billion in tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program, which are directly tied to Amazon’s commitment to create 25,000 new jobs and no less than a $2.3 billion investment over 10 years.
The state will also provide $505 million in grant funding that is tied both to Amazon’s initial commitment, as well as its growth to $3.6 billion total investment and up to 40,000 new jobs.
Patchett and Zemsky said moving forward, EDC, EDC and Amazon officials will meet with local community boards and other stakeholders leading up to the EIS.