Stephen Ross on Amazon HQ2: “I don’t think New York has a chance”

Bill Rudin argues talent trumps cost

TRD New York /
Nov.November 16, 2017 04:00 PM

From left: Jeff Bezos, Jeff Blau and Steve Ross

After Amazon announced its plans for a second headquarters, Related Companies approached the online retail giant with a simple pitch: “Wherever you go, we want to be your developer,” the company’s CEO Jeff Blau recalled at NYU Schack Institute’s annual conference on capital markets in real estate Thursday.

Blau doubts that place will be New York City. He cited Washington, D.C., Boston and Chicago as his favorites to land Amazon. Related’s chair Stephen Ross, speaking on an earlier panel, was equally pessimistic. “I don’t think New York has a chance,” he said. “Other cities, it’s important to them and they’re offering incentives like you wouldn’t believe.”

MaryAnne Gilmartin, CEO of Forest City New York, agreed, citing New York’s high cost of living and office development.

“I think it’s very difficult to imagine based on the cost structure,” she said.

Bill Rudin, head of Rudin Management, was more optimistic, pointing to firms like insurer Aetna that decided to move here despite the costs.

“They could have gone to a lower-cost location but they weighed that versus the talent and the people and the community,” he said. The firm is leasing the entire office portion of Aurora Capital Associates and Vornado Realty Trust’s 61 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District.

Several cities have gone out of their way to offer incentives to Amazon. New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio arranged for the Empire State Building to glow in orange light in a nod to the company’s colors. A small Georgia town even went as far as offering to change its name to Amazon.

ICYMI in person, NYC lit up in “Amazon orange” last night to coincide with the City submitting its official bid for @Amazon’s second headquarters. Iconic buildings, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade, along with billboards and CityBridge’s LinkNYC screens, joined in as a show of support.⠀ ⠀ All photos here courtesy of @nycedc. To see more, check out our Facebook page. Link in bio! ⬆️⠀ ⠀ #NYC #nycgo #seeyourcity #thisisnewyorkcity #allarewelcome #welcomingtheworld #iloveny #lovenyc #citybestpics #city_explore #seemycity #citylimitless #ic_thecity #urbangathering #ig_captures_city #ignycity #igcapture_nyc #ig_great_shots_nyc #ig_photooftheday #igers #igersofnyc #weekly_feature #nycprimeshot #what_i_saw_in_nyc #

A post shared by NYCgo (@nycgo) on

RXR Realty’s Scott Rechler said that Amazon’s checklist of things it is looking for in a city, including affordable housing and access to functioning transit, should also be seen as a checklist for New York as it tries to stay competitive. “It’s a war for talent,” he said. “That’s what drives the 21st century economy.”

Related Articles

As the years go by_A look back at 17 years of real estate history

A look back at 17 years of real estate history

Crystal City, Virginia and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (Credit: iStock, Getty Images)

Northern Virginia’s housing market is booming after Amazon’s HQ2

250th Issue

The Real Deal celebrates 250 issues

From left: Publisher and founder Amir Korangy, Editor-in-chief Stuart Elliott and VP of Corporate Development Yoav Barilan

TRD’s founders share war stories from over the years

Neir’s Tavern (Credit: Google Maps)

City’s oldest bar, of “Goodfellas” fame, gets last-minute lifeline

Neir's Tavern (Credit: Google Maps)

Landlord to bar owner: You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here

Sen. Michael Gianaris and Long Island City (NY Senate, Wikipedia)

“Amazon killer” Gianaris wants to overhaul subsidy programs that could have net billions for HQ2

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, 1133 Sixth Avenue and Douglas Durst (Credit: Getty Images)

Durst prevails in $21M lawsuit over soured Amazon deal