18 THE QUEENS COURIER • NOVEMBER 29, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Rain-soaked ralliers off er storm of Amazon HQ2 gripes
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELLDOMENECH
Anti-Amazon protestors and politicians
vowed on Monday night to never
stop fi ghting against Amazon’s HQ2
coming to Long Island City.
Councilman Jumaane Williams,
Assemblyman Harvey Epstein,
Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, former
Speaker of the City Council Melissa Mark-
Viverito along with representatives from
Align, NYCC, Socialist Alternative, Make the
Road, Caaav Organizing Asian Communities
and RWDSU gathered in front of the Long
Island City courthouse on Nov. 26.
Despite the pouring rain, the steps of the
courthouse were packed with protestors
holding signs that read “No to Amazon”
and carrying frowning Amazon boxes. To
many of the protestors, Amazon’s arrival
in Long Island City will negatively impact
every aspect of life.
“Th e people of Queens deserve better
and we demand better and we will march
forever until we get what we deserve,”said
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Van Bramer spoke out again about the
$500 million from the state the company
will receive for setting up shop in Long
Island City. Protests and outcry from elected
offi cials will not stop until the terms of
the City’s deal with Amazon are renegotiated.
Both Van Bramer and Williams signed
a letter last year asking Amazon to come
to New York but have come out against
the deal since it was announced earlier
this month. Th ey charged that Mayor Bill
de Blasio and Govenor Andrew Cuomo’s
decision to bring Amazon to the city was
“We said we would like to have a conversation,”
said Williams, who’s running for
public advocate in 2019. “We heard nothing
from this mayor until a couple of weeks
ago and what we heard was a friggin’ helipad,
three billion dollars and you’ve given
away all the power of this city. I do not
understand the mayor who should be the
fi rst in line protecting New York City’s
power of land use especially for local elected
If the city could aff ord to give $3 billion
in tax breaks to Amazon, the lawmakers
argued, then they are also capable of allotting
more funds toward improvements to
public housing and public transportation.
Another issue that many protestors spoke
out against was Amazon’s alleged treatment
of immigrants and people of color.
According to Th e Washington Post, in the
summer of this year, Amazon pitched its
facial recognition soft ware to Immigration
and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offi cials
Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech/THE COURIER
as a means for them to identify immigrants.
(Th e Washington Post is owned by Nash
Holdings, a holding company created by
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.)
“Amazon benefi ts from terrorizing immigrants,”
said Blanca Palomeque in Spanish.
As a Queens resident and member of Make
the Road who immigrated from Ecuador 15
years ago, she said that she could not condone
Amazon’s imminent move to LIC.
“It’s an injustice,” she said.Anti-Amazon
protestors stood out in the rain to call
for a renegotiation of the City’s deal with
Amazon in Long Island City.
Real estate broker: Amazon HQ2 presents big opportunity
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELLDOMENECH
A Long Island City real estate broker
wants to assure residents that just because
Amazon is coming doesn’t mean that the
neighborhood will lose its sense of community.
“Beyond just dollars and cents this is
a great opportunity for the community
to see an improvement for a lot of lives,”
said Robert Whalen, director of sales at
Halstead Real Estate, a tristate area real
estate brokerage fi rm.
According to Whalen, local real estate
fi rms won’t be the only ones who will benefi
t from LIC’s soon-to-be new neighbor.
In order to make sure everyone in LIC
benefi ts, he stressed that between brokers
and community members must have a
more open dialogue — because, ultimately,
both pro-Amazon and anti-Amazon
residents want the same things.
“We just diff er in how we should get
there,” said Whalen.
Multiple Amazon protests have already
taken place in Long Island City, with
many residents upset that with the company’s
arrival, longtime low-income residents
could be pushed out. Some residents
have been fearful that tax breaks
for Amazon means less money for Long
Island City schools and infrastructure.
Since Amazon announced that Long
Island City would become home to one
of its HQ2 locations, the real estate market
has seen a surge in interest with traffi
c at Halstead open houses being three to
four times higher than normal.
Many properties have attracted multiple
buyers. Walk in traffi c at the fi rm’s
Vernon Boulevard offi ce has doubled and
phones are ringing off the hook with
sellers asking for advice. Th e price for
residential and commercial space will
most likely skyrocket as Amazon’s arrival
Long Island City was already the fastest
growing neighborhood in the United
States before Amazon announced its
impending arrival and has been an industrial
center for decades.
According to Whalen, Amazon’s arrival
and the resulting infl ux of people in Long
Island City is part of the normal evolution
of the neighborhood.
“It is going to accelerate it and give it a
little more defi nition,” said Whalen.
Whalen not only works in the neighborhood,
but he’s also lived there since
2007. He said that the increased development
brought more restaurants, martial
arts studios, soccer leagues, salons and
other businesses that he, his family and
neighbors can enjoy.
“It’s a little bit diff erent and the buildings
are shinier but there is an interest in
preserving that,” said Whalen.
But in order for progress to happen,
he concluded, Long Island City residents
need to accept and try to work with
Amazon and each other.
Th e mouth of the Anable Basin in Long
Island City, where Amazon will develop
its HQ2 campus in partnership with local
real estate companies.
Photo: Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech/THE COURIER
The Long Island City waterfront near Anable Basin