Protestors against Amazon. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images Real-estate development in New York City involves a lot of political back-scratching. Or, put more favorably, you could say it involves a consultative process between the public and private sectors. Politicians make asks on behalf of constituencies and interest groups: please build a playground here, use labor from…


Protestors against Amazon. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Real-estate development in New York City involves a lot of political back-scratching. Or, put more favorably, you could say it involves a consultative process between the public and private sectors.

Politicians make asks on behalf of constituencies and interest groups:please build a playground here, use labor from this union, agree to put the apartments you’ve built under rent stabilization. In return, politicians offer things of value to developers. The city can create that value out of thin air by changing the zoning on a piece of land, but sometimes, the value comes from tax abatements not terribly different from the ones Amazon was controversially offered to build a 4 million square-foot campus in Queens. Just ask Donald Trump, who started his real-estate development career with the tax-abated renovation of the Grand Hyatt in Midtown.

Domino Sugar redevelopment in Williamsburg. at a press conference last week, according toThe Wall Street Journal. “I look forward to working with companies that understand that if you’re willing to engage with New Yorkers and work through challenging issues, New York City is the world’s best place to do business,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a strong opponent of the deal, pushing the consultative model for other firms. didn’t need each other; it was right for elected officials to fight the huge subsidy grant, and it was right for Amazon to decide not to come if they didn’t think they could get it. New York is very important, but it’s not important enough to force a large, international company like Amazon into a permanent consultation it wasn’t going to enjoy.

Politicians who opposed this deal should be glad they won, but they shouldn’t be surprised Jeff Bezos walked away with his marbles. They weren’t New York’s marbles to begin with.

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What New York Learned From the Failed Amazon–Queens Deal

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