The Daily Dirt: It’s Amazon abandonment day

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

Feb.February 18, 2020 01:43 PM
A photo illustration of Michael Gianaris and Jeff Bezos (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia, iStock)

A photo illustration of Michael Gianaris and Jeff Bezos (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia, iStock)

One year ago Amazon broke up with New York (sort of).

The company has inked some major leases in the city since it abandoned Long Island City, but many in the industry still feel the sting of Feb. 14, 2019.

A few takeaways from that Valentine’s Day: Amazon is apparently very sensitive to what local politicians say about it (remember the dossier?). Gov. Andrew Cuomo has criticized Senate Democrats for the company’s decision, while Mayor Bill de Blasio has mostly attacked Amazon (despite his role in wooing the company). Given the political climate in New York, creating another massive corporate campus in the city — especially one that doesn’t commit to all forms of union labor — would be an uphill battle.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Michael Gianaris, a.k.a the “Amazon Slayer,” is drafting legislation to reform two of the tax credit programs that Amazon had tapped for its headquarters. The programs would have saved Amazon $1.3 billion over 15 years in exchange for employing up to 40,000 people.

Still, some in the industry believe that all was not lost when the company abandoned its plans: Amazon’s extended flirtation with LIC drew attention to the neighborhood.

“Amazon has some of the smartest people in the world working for them, and they picked Long Island City,” said Silverback Development’s John Schuster. “So people are now thinking, ‘It’s got to be great.’”

(Schuster had filed an offering plan for a condo conversion project in the neighborhood just before Amazon pulled out.)

We still don’t know what will become of the sites that Amazon had pegged for its headquarters. Maybe we’ll know by next Valentine’s?

What we’re thinking about: What items in the governor’s proposed budget are you watching closely? Send a note to [email protected].


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Friday was for a co-op unit at 800 Park Avenue in Lenox Hill, at $8.7 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an industrial building at 48-23 55th Avenue in Maspeth, at $23.3 million.


The largest new building filing of the day was for two adjacent residential buildings at 21 West 17th Street and 16 West 18th Street in the Flatiron District, spanning a respective 26,457 and 19,845 square feet. Vinbaytel Development filed the permit application.


The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 135 East 79th Street on the Upper East Side, at $15 million. R New York’s Barbara Dervan has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

Jonathan Miller has been the author of Douglas Elliman’s market reports for 25(!) years. The appraiser mentioned this in his latest newsletter, which is titled “Housing is like Dogs Jumping from Trees.” Thank you to Erin Hudson, who sent over the newsletter.

Elsewhere in New York

— The horror! The Peanut Butter Bandit has struck again, according to Gothamist. (If you are thinking bandit is a bit of a misnomer here, it’s being used to reflect lawlessness, but stay with me.) The “bandit” is smearing peanut butter on subway poles on the A train.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio has endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president … NOT. De Blasio has actually thrown this support behind Bernie Sanders, Politico reports. The move definitely gives him some progressive brownie points. Four years ago the mayor snubbed Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton.

— Well, this is fun: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the city’s Department of Health unveiled its NYC Legend XL condom wrapper design, according to Patch. “This is a condom by New Yorkers for New Yorkers,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said.

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