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Amazon's fleeing NYC is a gut punch to Queens property investors

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/14/2019 Áine Cain
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Amazon said Thursday that it is abandoning its plans to construct a second headquarters in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York.

The move is sure to be a gut punch for anyone who bought up Queens property in anticipation of HQ2 coming to town, as well as a major relief for residents concerned about soaring rents and snarled commutes.

The company said in a blog post that it is scrapping the New York HQ2 project, which it announced in November.

"We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion - we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture - and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents," the post said.

Concerns about Amazon's effect on affordable housing in Queens swirled from the get-go. The company faced increasing pressure from local politicians like New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's support for the company's plans. 

But Amazon's announcement also prompted questions about what this all means for anyone who dove into the Queens real-estate market in anticipation of getting a major payoff thanks to Amazon.

After all, some Amazon employees reportedly snatched up New York apartments before the company's HQ2 game plan was even announced. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that real-estate brokers in Queens were seeing record sales.

For Amazon employees and real-estate players banking on Amazon's move, the news is likely unwelcome.

New York City real estate site StreetEasy weighed in on how the will affect the local real estate market.

"Long Island City's housing market will likely experience a bit of whiplash as a result of this latest news," StreetEasy economic data analyst Nancy Wu said in a statement. 'In the weeks after the initial announcement that Amazon would be coming to Queens, we saw sellers in the area increase their asking prices, interest from buyers and investors spike to new highs, and for-sale listings beyond Long Island City - in areas like Midtown and Astoria - tout their proximity to the new Amazon campus."

Wu went on to say that StreetEasy expected "asking prices and buyer interest to fairly quickly revert back to their pre-announcement levels."

"The Amazon reversal highlights the risk inherent in speculative investment in real estate in the city," Wu said. "While the city has enjoyed swift economic growth, turning a quick profit remains difficult, particularly in areas dense with new development."

And in an interview with the New York Business Journal published last week, Aleksandra Scepanovic, the founder of Ideal Properties Group, said New York City's real-estate scene was awash in opportunities "with or without Amazon" - meaning prices could jump in areas like Long Island City anyway.

That didn't stop people on Twitter from speculating about who stands to lose now that the online retail giant has backed off its New York HQ2 plans:

If you're an Amazon employee who planned to move to New York City, or someone working in the Queens real-estate business, we want to hear your perspective. Email us at retail@businessinsider.com. 

Read more about Amazon's HQ2 saga:

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