Living in Long Island City with Amazon

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Mike + Ally becomes collateral damage

As many of you might already know, Mike + Ally has been operating from Long Island City for the past 10 years.  The news of Amazon moving in 3 blocks away was pretty startling.  It has a been a roller coaster for Mike + Ally… from the time the surprising announcement was made to the one line email stating Amazon was pulling out.

From a local standpoint,  it didn’t take long for landlords to remove incentives and raise prices on the over 10,000 overbuilt residential units recently developed around LIC.  Immediately following the announcement,  StreetEasy saw a 295 percent increase for buyer searches from the prior week in the area.  Clearly the Amazon deal would bring about winners and losers.  Small local retailers would  profit; the proprietor of my bagel store located in the Citi Corp building which was being leased immediately to Amazon was overjoyed, 'John Browns Smokehouse' was licking his ribs in anticipation,  'The Beast Next Door' would be serving mugs of craft beer to the incoming Amazon mid managers, dog walking services would flourish and of course 25,000 people would be newly employed. LIC would rapidly become gentrified – at a much faster clip than it currently was taking.

But there were also concerns about the plan.  The Queensbridge Housing project, the largest in the United States with over 3,200 units and just a mere few blocks away was all but left out of the equation. A $5M proposed job development fund was Amazon’s answer.  The traffic leading to and from the 59th bridge is already a nightmare.  Subways are dilapidated and delayed frequently and would not be repaired.  What infrastructure improvements was Amazon proposing??

Of course there was the issue of the $3 billion tax break being given to the most profitable company in the world, the lack of unionization of employees and the secrecy of the deal without any local input.  But what about Mike + Ally.  Well, our lease was due to expire in April and we had just begun to negotiate the terms the week before Amazon made their announcement.  Then we received a one line email that our lease would not be renewed.  After 10 years of being the anchor tenant – just like that. Speculation was that the space would be converted to hi-tech.  You connect the dots.

Amazon would have been good for the neighborhood, jobs and for the prestige of New York City.  But how do they purport being good neighbors when they simply pull out of a deal with the first sign of any controversy.  To play with people’s lives without any sense of responsibility – without even attempting to resolve the issues by working with local and city officials and without even the decency of returning the Mayor’s call…..we don’t need oligarch’s playing G-d. 

I believe everyone will learn from this experience – both the grandstanding politicians and large corporations.  There will be many other opportunities and LIC will be the better from it.

In the meantime, thanks to the whims of Amazon - we are busy disrupting our lives and business moving.   New address to follow……

Ally

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