(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc will not move forward with plans to build a headquarters in New York after rising opposition from local politicians, one of the world’s most valuable companies said in a statement on Thursday.
The company said it will not reopen the search process “at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.”
The company had begun considering alternatives last week. The online retailer has not yet acquired any land for the project, which would make it easy to scrap its plans, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters on Friday.
Amazon had announced it would create 25,000 jobs and build one of two new headquarters in the Long Island City neighborhood in the borough of Queens, just across the East River from Manhattan.The proposal ran into opposition from local politicians who opposed the $2.8-billion in incentives promised to Amazon in a deal secretly negotiated by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The company said, “for Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term.”
Newly-elected Congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among the more high-profile critics of the deal from the Democratic Party’s leftward flank.
“Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations?” she wrote on Twitter last week. “Yes, they can.”
Some residents in the neighborhood, once a scruffy haunt of artists that has rapidly-gentrified with a burst of recent high-rise development, had also opposed the plan.
Long-time residents feared being forced out by rising rents and untenable pressure on already overburdened subway and sewage systems.
Cuomo was a staunch advocate of the project, touting not only the jobs it would create but the long-term tax revenues it would generate.
One point of contention was Amazon’s opposition to labor unions.
“Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers – that’s not what a responsible business would do,” said Chelsea Connor, Director of Communications for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The RWDSU, which had criticized Amazon for its resistance to unionization, is one of the city’s most powerful private sector unions.
Chicago, Miami and Newark are among the passed-over finalists that have expressed interest in another chance to become the home of an Amazon project that could bring 25,000 jobs. Nashville, Tennessee, which was awarded a 5,000-person center, also said it was open to taking on a bigger role should New York withdraw from consideration.
Shares of Amazon were down about 0.4 percent after the announcement.