These days, Jeff Bezos has a lot more on his plate than dealing with an alleged extortion plot by the National Enquirer. He’ll also need to find a new home for (one of) Amazon’s second headquarters, because the Big Apple has turned out not be so edible after all.
To unravel this extraordinary development, let’s hit the (somewhat) wayback-playback button and return to November 5, 2018. That’s when word first surfaced that Amazon had selected New York City and Northern Virginia as its two HQ2 sites. The announcement was made official eight days later, but not before generating criticism on a number of fronts; most vocally from labor union leadership and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY, 14th District). The fact that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio inferred through their own statements that Amazon would receive $3 billion in subsidies without the need for additional government approvals didn’t sit well with those opposed to the plan, either.
Fast forward about a month to December 12. Instead of dreaming about how much bigger holiday retail sales will be with Seattle’s HQ1 and North Virginia + New York City’s HQ2 working at full capacity (for the 2018 holiday season, Amazon sales climbed year-over-year by 10% to a staggering $2.87 billion), Amazon executives must have felt like a beat up ’71 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am about to undergo a classic car restoration, because they were gutted at the City Council meeting. To some observers, that is when Amazon’s love affair with New York City seriously started to get rocky, and the public relations offensive on both sides really turned up a few notches.
About six weeks later on January 30 at another City Council meeting, an Amazon executive essentially said that the move to New York City is not a done deal — which critics perceived as a veiled (and to some, a not-so-veiled) threat. Whether by coincidence or design, five days later on February 4th New York State Senator Michael Gianaris (D, 12th District) — a vocal critic of the subsidies offered to Amazon — was tapped to join a state board that has veto power over the deal. And then four days later on February 8th, the Washington Post reported that two people familiar with the Amazon’s thinking said that the company was reconsidering its decision.
Since then, Amazon executives have re-confirmed their commitment to NYC only to ultimate pull the plug on the project. And the rest, well, is history.