Opinions

Amazon’s future headquarters will inevitably gentrify Long Island City

Gentrification is taking place all over New York City. From the Lower East Side to Brooklyn, hopeful homeowners swarm neighborhoods with dreams of living in the urban area or even with hopes of opening a trendy storefront.

Although gentrification can create “aesthetically pleasing” changes, it ultimately breaks down neighborhoods. Housing soars in places like the Lower East Side, where gentrification has quickly taken over.

Additionally, it has tremendously increased in Crown Heights, with many people pushed out due to the increasing urbanization; the wealthy are pushing out the people originally living there.

Most importantly, the residents of Long Island City are fearful of rising costs and loss of business. According to the Verge, Syed Rahman, a Vanderbilt University student, is excited for the job opportunities the new headquarters of Amazon.com Inc. may provide, including average wages of about $150,000 annually.

On the other hand, although Rahman is excited for these opportunities, he is stressed over the fact that his less privileged counterparts who live in Long Island City will be unable to afford housing in the area.

From the 11 percent increase in population between 2010 to 2016, Long Island City has seen a population growth that is “double the rate” of NYC, the Verge says, but infrastructure there has yet to accommodate the large increase in population.

The Verge interviewed the director of economic policy at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, Lena Afridi, who stated, “The infrastructure that is there hasn’t been kept up.” Afridi raised the concern that the mayor and governor are not investing in things that require urgent attention.

As Rahman stated, many college students and graduates are excited for the increase in the potential job opportunities at Amazon. The company did promise the fact that it will be bringing 25,000 jobs to the area.

However, there are some caveats to this fact. According to Nate Bliss, the senior vice president for development at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, 12,500 of these jobs will be tech-related but the other half will consist of “administrative, HR, custodial, and other roles,” according to the Real Deal. It would be extremely hard to land a job in the new headquarters.

In response to the increased criticism about jobs, representatives from the company have stated that they will invest in the community by joining with nonprofit organizations such as Pursuit to create courses in software engineering for disadvantaged New Yorkers. Amazon also promised that the company will have job fairs and career workshops in Queens.

Though there have been many critics of Amazon’s headquarters, there are still some store owners from Long Island City who are interested in the new headquarters. The Verge also interviewed Bobby Patel, a local deli owner, said that he will now be able to keep his business open later into the night because he thinks it will be safer.

Furthermore, he believes that with Amazon’s plans, he will get a significant increase in potential customers.

Similarly, restaurant owners have also been optimistic about the increase in sales and even predicted that they will need to hire more staff to keep up with more customers.

Ultimately, Amazon’s new headquarters will gentrify the neighborhoods surrounding it. With that in mind, people can continue to protest the headquarters, but with many prominent politicians supporting the move, it is unlikely that this decision will be overturned.

-Alison Lui

Accounting ‘22

December 3, 2018

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Alison Lui


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