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Amazon leases new space in New York, less than year after scuttled HQ2 deal

Following an outcry over corporate tax breaks, Amazon pulled out of a deal for a new headquarters near Manhattan. Now it's leasing office space in midtown.

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- 02:04
Amazon logo superimposed on photo of computer keyboard

"I'll make a brand-new start of it in old New York."

Jaap Arriens/Getty Images

Call it Escape From New York: The Sequel. Amazon has reportedly leased office space in Manhattan less than a year after backlash over an incentives deal caused it to ditch high-profile plans for a campus in the New York borough of Queens.

The Queens deal, which followed Amazon's yearlong public search for a new second headquarters -- "HQ2" -- sparked an outcry from critics including US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who serves part of the borough. Among other things, they attacked the $3 billion package of corporate tax breaks and other incentives offered by New York State in exchange for the promise of tens of thousands of tech jobs. Amazon backed out in February.

News that the e-commerce powerhouse has now leased office space in New York for more than 1,500 employees was reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal, and it had some of those same critics saying "told you so."

"Won't you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway - *without* requiring the public to finance shady deals, helipad handouts for Jeff Bezos, & corporate giveaways," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Friday, name-checking Amazon CEO Bezos, one of the world's richest people.

Others, though, said the newly leased offices were nothing alongside the proposed Queens campus, which Amazon had said would employ 25,000 people. Eric Phillips, a former press secretary for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who'd pushed for the HQ2 project, responded to AOC's tweet.

"This is a tiny fraction of the jobs, with no help for public housing residents or locals, in a place that was going to be developed and have jobs anyway," Phillips wrote on Twitter.

Others have said that given New York's talent pool and other selling points, it's inevitable that Amazon will continue to increase its footprint there, along with its tech rivals. The Journal also reported Friday that Facebook is in talks to lease more space in Manhattan, not far from Amazon's new offices.

In a statement to CNET, an Amazon spokesperson said the company plans to "hire and grow organically across our 18 Tech Hubs, including New York City" and that the new offices in Manhattan are part of those plans.

Facebook declined to comment.

Originally published Dec. 7, 12:12 p.m. PT.
Update, 2:04 p.m.: Adds Amazon statement.