I spent Thursday morning in Long Island City talking to business who were revitalizing help for Amazon’s plan to convey its second headquarters to the neighborhood. There is no uncertainty they trust that a couple of unrepresentative activists and government officials have severely harmed the neighborhood’s prospects.
Gianna Cerbone has been a piece of a gathering of business owners have been printing publications to put in their shops proclaiming “This business supports Amazon in LIC” and handing out “I Love Amazon” catches to similar clients. The owner of Manducatis Rustica on Vernon Boulevard has lived her whole life in the neighborhood.
Dr. Angelo Ippolito, a chiropractor in LIC for 18 years, went to the first anti-Amazon rally and didn’t recognize a single person there. He said 95% of his patients support Amazon.
It was the same story at the Community Church of Astoria, Pastor Corwin Mason said his congregation had been almost unanimously behind the company’s arrival because of the opportunities it would have brought. It isn’t a surprise since Mason is African-American, a group that backed Amazon 70% to 25%.
“It’s a great thing for LIC,” Ippolito said just two hours before news broke of Amazon’s reversal. “I have watched the development here since 2001, this would be the ultimate achievement as far as making Long Island City a business location.”
Cerbone said that despite the growth in the neighborhood, there simply isn’t enough business activity to sustain the many small businesses like hers. “We need the foot traffic,” she said.
LIC Partnership President Elizbeth Lusskin noticed an increasingly prompt concern. Amazon was booked to move just about 1,000 representatives into the Citigroup Tower before the year’s over, which would have been a savior for local merchants that have been hard-hit by Citi’s’s gradual exodus from the building. (It isn’t clear if Amazon is also cancelling that plan).
“The biggest problem we have had in attracting business is perception and Amazon completely turned around the perception that LIC is not a good place for large business,” she said. “The perception that this is not a mature community would be a big step backward.”
Politically the adversaries of the arrangement will claim a big victory particularly state Sen. Michael Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and obviously Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. The media has disregarded the way that nearby pioneers like Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the area’s real agent in Congress, supported Amazon
The business owners and community pioneers I met with at the beginning of today have little uncertainty who’s to be faulted for the breakdown of this agreement. They are angry enough that both Gianaris and Van Bramer will be met with fierce opposition when they next face voters.