Why is the Amazon deal met with so much resistance?

We’ve covered the agreement Amazon made with New York to bring a new headquarters to Long Island City, over which the New York City Council and many residents have expressed concern. The first of the council’s hearings looking into the deal occurred in December, but the second and third hearings have not been scheduled yet.

Large corporations open headquarters in New York all the time, so what makes Amazon so different? Why is the deal met with such resistance?

Cause for criticism

One criticism against the company is its government support. Many people do not like that New York offered Amazon over $1.5 billion in performance-based incentives for job creation, among other incentive opportunities. Many people in the city, including city councilors, believe Amazon is not a “good neighbor,” as the company and the state did not give the community an opportunity to provide input on the deal.

The city council also believes the company is “out of touch” with New Yorkers, as one of the provisions in the deal is the addition of a helipad on the building’s roof. This was especially notable for some councilors who are upset Amazon has not agreed to fund transit projects the city needs. While Amazon Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman said the company would fund the construction, it still caused backlash.

Can Amazon learn from Google?

By contrast, Google has expanded its office the Chelsea neighborhood of New York over the past two decades with little complaint. Aside from some resistance and naysayers, the company’s image is generally favorable in the area. Both companies originate on the West Coast but many New Yorkers and councilors believe Google has integrated well with the limitations of the city.

As an example, when the company’s co-founder Sergey Brin when on a tour of an elevated freight line that Google would develop, he suggested a Frisbee golf course as an addition. Someone responded that it would cause Frisbees to strike people on the street below if they went flying off, and Brin abandoned the idea.

While the Amazon deal is currently met with scrutiny and scorn, Google may provide a template for how the company can turn around its image in the long run with New Yorkers. 

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Stephen Bialkowski

Stephen Bialkowski, Esq. is a member of the firm and a Litigator and Transactional Attorney practicing in the areas of construction, real estate, real estate development and business law.