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Some more interesting pieces in the press about Amazon’s decision to choose for its second North American headquarters both New York’s Long Island City, just across the East River from Manhattan in the borough of Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, in the Crystal City neighborhood, adjacent to National Airport and just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.

• The New York Times had an op-ed column by Vishaan Chakrabarti, former director of planning for New York City, that looked at the potential upside for the city:

“It is with dismay that I hear the fiercely negative reaction to the announcement that New York City won the Amazon competition to land at least 25,000 jobs and decades of direct and indirect economic growth in Long Island City. The fact that the debate has yielded so much heat and so little light is a sign of how complacent we have become. It is easy to forget that employment generates our city tax base, which strains to help fund the public goods we so desperately need, from schools to transit to affordable housing to parks to basic services like snow and trash removal. The city’s tax revenues have more than doubled since Sept. 11, to $83 billion from $40 billion. The Bloomberg administration put us in this enviable economic position; Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be lauded for doubling down on those efforts.

“Yet there are stiff headwinds. Municipal spending is outpacing growth. Federal urban investments continue to retract. And we already have some of the highest income taxes in the country … It is for these reasons that we should welcome Amazon, but with a few caveats: To become true New Yorkers, the people at Amazon must abide by our implicit social compact, which is that New York City strives to be a place of opportunity for all. Amazon, the city and the state must build an ‘infrastructure of opportunity’ that creates both physical and social mobility for all New Yorkers, and they must do so with fiscal responsibility.”

One of the advantages for the city, she writes, is that Amazon’s investment actually will make New York less dependent on the ebbs and flows of the financial industry.

The piece can be found here.

• The New Republic has a somewhat different angle:

“When Amazon announced on Tuesday that it would build one of its new headquarters in Long Island City’s Anable Basin, environmentalists were quick to notice that the site could be partially underwater by 2050. By the next millennium, it will be completely submerged, according to the environmental research group Climate Central’s most recent projections. Situated in an inlet along the East River, the site is currently home to parking lots and warehouse spaces, but when Amazon breaks ground, which could be as soon as 2019, new apartment complexes and office buildings will go up—all of which would be vulnerable to flooding if sea levels rise even just a few feet. 

This piece can be read here.

• The Wall Street Journal writes about how, “If Seattle is a guide for the just-announced future hosts of the online giant’s second headquarters, Amazon’s arrival will be transformative. Restaurants and new infrastructure are likely to follow - what some Seattleites call the Amazon prosperity bomb - but the invasion of workers will also bring traffic jams and a jump in housing prices.”

The story points out that “in Seattle, Amazon rewrote the book on how a big company makes its home in an urban area, putting thousands of employees in the downtown core rather than a suburban campus … Amazon’s campus, which spans over several city blocks, has its own banana stands that hand out thousands of free bananas. Some workers have said there is a shortage of bananas at nearby grocery stores as a result.”

Local celebrity chef Tom Douglas (MNB fave Etta’s is one of his restaurants there) tells the Journal that there is an easy way to identify Amazon employees: ““They want cheap, and they travel in packs,” but they also fill the tables of his restaurants and come back for Happy Hour.

You can read the story here.
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