City Council to Hold  Hearings on Amazon Deal

City Council to Hold Hearings on Amazon Deal

Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Queens Borough President

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz this week suggested that Amazon should help pay for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector as “a fair investment into its new home” in LIC.

By Michael V. Cusenza
The City Council will hold a series of hearings over the next two months to gain some insight into the recent agreement between Amazon and NYC that will establish a new corporate headquarters for the e-commerce behemoth in Long Island City.
The hearings, which have been scheduled for Dec. 12, a January date to be determined, and a February date to be determined, will feature City and State officials close to the polarizing pact. Reps for Amazon have been invited, though as of Wednesday afternoon, the company had not responded to the invitation.
Last month, following a comprehensive, year-long selection process during which the company was courted by dozens of U.S. cities, Amazon, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Amazon had chosen The World’s Borough for its next base of operations.
To bring HQ2 to LIC, the State offered Amazon a package of incentives totaling $1.705 billion, including $1.2 billion in tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program, which is directly tied to Amazon’s commitment to create 25,000 new jobs and no less than $2.3 billion investment over 10 years; as well as a $505 million capital grant that is directly tied to Amazon’s commitment to invest $3.6 billion and create up to 40,000 new jobs over 15 years.
The mammoth deal has garnered plenty of opposition.
“We cannot support a giveaway of this magnitude, a process that circumvents community review through the use of a [general project plan] or the inevitable stress on the infrastructure of a community already stretched to its limits,” State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) wrote in a joint statement.
In response to questions about Amazon and Long Island City’s infrastructure needs, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz suggested that Amazon pay for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar service first unveiled by de Blasio in his 2016 State of the City address. The new transit line—the first city streetcar in more than 50 years—would stretch 16 miles from Astoria to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, linking together neighborhoods “long underserved” by public transit with some of the fastest-growing job hubs, Hizzoner noted.
The price tag for the BQX is estimated at $2.5 billion.
“A substantial and meaningful investment by Amazon that helps ensure the feasibility of BQX would be a fair investment into its new home, and a welcome opportunity for a good corporate neighbor to directly benefit the existing, impacted communities of Western Queens,” Katz said. “The company and the public sector must work together to make investments in necessary transit improvements that will support Queens residents.”

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