I’ve lived near Long Island City for more than a decade. Here’s why I’m worried Amazon HQ2 may come to Queens.

long island city 7 train mta queens boulevard sunset 2009 dave mosher

Amazon is reportedly splitting its second headquarters, known as HQ2, in two locations. Each would have about 25,000 new workers.
The company reportedly wants to put half of HQ2 in Long Island City, or LIC — the western-most neighborhood in Queens, New York.
Developers have rapidly built up LIC in recent years, and local leaders are promising big subsidies in hopes of attracting Amazon.
But nearby housing prices continue to skyrocket. Many immigrant and working families in Queens are also moving deeper into the borough and commuting farther to work to afford housing in area.
Public transportation is also overcrowded.
In the coming decades, climate change and rising seas will chronically flood parts of LIC and possibly bury it underwater.

When I heard that Amazon may split its second headquarters, known as HQ2, between Crystal City, Virginia, and Long Island City, Queens, my heart sank.

I’ve called Queens my home for most of my adult life. It’s one of the most ethnically diverse urban areas on Earth, and is also where I’ve built a career in journalism, stumbled out of and into love, discovered Kuala Lumpur-style fish-head curry, walked whole neighborhoods without hearing any English, and am now raising my first child.

My family lives in a one-bedroom apartment near Long Island City (or LIC, as locals abbreviate it). Frequent dog walks and a westward view from our kitchen window have given us a front-row seat to the area’s radical transformation. When I moved to the area in 2007, LIC was a tangle of giant warehouses, crumbling parking structures, seedy night clubs, and mind-blowing graffiti.

Today it’s almost unrecognizable. An impeccable public park now lines the East River waterfront, and views of Manhattan’s skyline — once easy to see from my street — have been walled off by gleaming, glass-covered condo towers.

Read more: New York City owns a creepy island that almost no one is allowed to visit — here’s what it’s like

I can see why Amazon would fix its gaze upon LIC and estimate a multi-billion-dollar boost to the local economy. The neighborhood is a stone’s throw from Manhattan, sits fairly close to the city’s three major international airports, touches several major subway lines, and has room to build and grow. Also, New York City is an incredible place to live — and thus a great way to attract talented employees.

But I’m worried.

My “not in my backyard” angst doesn’t come from a fear of change. An influx of skilled workers, a forward-thinking company, and increased tax revenue could fund a fantastic experiment in urban development.

While densifying LIC, Amazon, developers, and city officials could create climate-change-resilient infrastructure, designate car-free zones, expand affordable housing, boost public schools, provide easier access to food and other critical amenities, generate a raft of high-paying jobs around Amazon, and give some of the hardest-working (yet hardest-struggling) families in the city a chance to build intergenerational wealth.

What I’ve seen, …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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