QUEENS, N.Y. (CN) — In a Valentine’s Day breakup for the books, Amazon pulled the plug Thursday on its embattled plan to build a headquarters in New York, citing opposition from local politicians.
The popular online retailer said it has no plans to look for another location but will continue growing existing offices in Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee.
“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” the company said today in a statement.
For the past several months, Amazon had faced massive protests and regulatory pushback over its plans to build in New York, which had promised the company $3 billion in tax incentives in return for its business.
Though the incentives seem consistent with what another large company would receive in the city, Amazon faced pushback in particular because of its status as the world’s largest online retailer. Founder Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, with a net worth of about $135 billion.
The issue has fiercely polarized New Yorkers, particularly New York Democrats. Last week, two Amazon officials told the Washington Post the company was reconsidering the Queens location because of local opposition.
Negotiations had been fraught from the start: In a rare show of teamwork by the two Democrats, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and state Governor Andrew Cuomo embarked on a quiet negotiation process with Amazon without the involvement of New York City Council.
Proponents for the deal did little to show or prove how it could benefit the community, city and state, while the minority protesters — including union leaders and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens, were loud and well-organized.
At the first City Council oversight hearing, employees of Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse announced plans to unionize, citing poor working conditions and long hours. During the hearings, Amazon reps refused to agree to neutrality.
“New Yorkers made it clear Amazon wasn’t welcome in our city if it would not respect our workers and our communities,” George Miranda, president of Teamsters Joint Council 16, said in a statement Thursday. “Apparently, the company decided that was too much to ask.”
Jimmy Van Bramer, the council member representing the Queens neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria and Dutch Kills, made similar remarks at the most recent hearing. “It’s a union-busting deal from the beginning,” he said.
Van Bramer criticized Amazon for throwing around the figure that the new headquarters would bring 40,000 jobs, while only setting aside 30 customer-service jobs at the offset for New Yorkers who get housing subsidies.
On Twitter today, Van Bramer celebrated Amazon’s announcement.
“Defeating an anti-union corporation that mistreats workers and assists ICE in terrorizing immigrant communities is a victory,” he wrote. “Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city & state forever.”
State Senate Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris, who represents Long Island City in Albany and also opposed the deal, had started using the hashtag #Scamazon on Twitter. Earlier this month he was recommended to an obscure state board that could have reviewed and possibly blocked the project.
“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event,” Gianaris said in a statement. “Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way.”