NYU Administrators Want Amazon Back

In an open letter, President Hamilton and Tandon Dean Kovačević asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to reconsider a headquarters in New York City.

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Julia McNeill

Citizens gather in Long Island City to protest the movement of Amazon into the area. (Staff Photo by Julia McNeill)

By Akiva Thalheim, Social Media Editor

President Andrew Hamilton and Tandon School of Engineering Dean Jelena Kovačević signed an open letter in The New York Times last week urging Amazon to reconsider its decision to not build a second headquarters in Long Island City.

The full-page ad in Friday’s edition of the Times was signed by business leaders, current and former politicians and community officials. It was paid for by the Partnership for New York City — a non-profit organization comprised of New York City business leaders — and was addressed directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The letter contends that New York would miss out on 36,000 jobs and $28 billion in tax revenue if Amazon does not build their HQ2 in Long Island City.

“A clear majority of New Yorkers support this project and were disappointed by your decision not to proceed,” the letter reads.

The letter goes on to say that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio would work together to ensure a revised deal to bring Amazon to New York would pass. Cuomo has reportedly had multiple conversations with Bezos about reviving the Amazon deal — it was his office that initially proposed the letter be written.

NYU was one of 13 New York-based colleges that signed a letter in New York City’s bid for Amazon. Once Amazon announced their plans to build a second headquarters in Long Island City, NYU expressed excitement because of the jobs and internships that would potentially be available to students and graduates. Others protested, citing concerns over gentrification in Queens, excessive tax incentives and a lack of certainty that any new jobs would go to local Queens residents.

After resistance from activists, residents and New York City politicians, Amazon canceled its plans to build a headquarters in the city on Feb. 14. The university called Amazon’s actions “regrettable.”

In a statement to WSN, NYU spokesperson John Beckman explained that the university wants to keep Amazon in LIC to secure jobs for graduates. In his statement, he also alluded to the potential positive impact the company’s headquarters would have on New York City’s economy.

“Amazon’s choice of New York City for a headquarters can have a major impact on establishing New York as a global capital of tech, thereby helping to diversify New York’s economy in an important and needed way,” Beckman wrote.

CAS junior Jimmy Council, who lives in Queens Village, opposes the deal due to the gentrification he believes would result from it.

“As someone who grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Queens, the thought of people who are not financially stable enough to live in other places possibly getting displaced from their communities hurts me,” Council said. “I wouldn’t want that to happen to me and of course wouldn’t want that to happen to another family regardless of the fact if the deal would bring money to the city.”

CAS junior Annalisa Garofalo is also against Amazon moving to Long Island City and feels that Hamilton and Kovačević’s actions do not represent the student body.

“I think it’s a bit radical that two high-ranking employees of the institution signed such a controversial statement,” Garofalo said. “This move represents the entire university and its constituents — most of whom, from what I’ve gathered, don’t support the move.”

Email Akiva Thalheim at [email protected]