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Paying a premium: Officials’ push for Amazon HQ could make boro less affordable, locals say

Moving in?: Borough President Adams and other officials are pushing to bring a second world headquarters of Amazon to Brooklyn, and the beep named Sunset Park — where the tech giant already operates a distribution center in Third Avenue’s the Liberty View Industrial Plaza — as a possible location.
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Local officials’ are pushing to bring Amazon’s second world headquarters — and thousands of workers — to Brooklyn, but some say not everyone is going to save on the deal, including those living on the cheap in Sunset Park and Williamsburg.

“It would definitely put upward pressure on the housing market and make things less affordable,” said Jakub Nowak, a broker with Marcus and Millichap.

Borough President Adams and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce executives started courting the online marketplace last week after its honchos announced they are accepting proposals for a $5-billion new home base that will house 50,000 workers.

Housing prices in Seattle, the home of Amazon’s original headquarters, have risen faster than anywhere else in the country since the company opened there, according to a Seattle Times report.

Adams named Sunset Park and Williamsburg as possible locations for the business. Both nabes boast huge office spaces, including Industry City and the Brooklyn Army Terminal in the former, and the latter’s in-construction 25 Kent complex.

But activists in largely minority, working-class Sunset Park say its residents are already battling gentrification as developers propose erecting hundreds of swanky new apartments and townhouses in the nabe, and bringing in a headquarters for the online juggernaut would only drive housing prices up.

“These types of tech companies have an impact on local markets including residential and commercial real estate, both of which are in extremely precarious state as it is in Sunset Park,” said Ryan Chavez, infrastructure coordinator for neighborhood environmental advocacy group Uprose.

And commercial rents also jumped in Seattle following the debut of Amazon’s hub for highly paid corporate employees, pushing out many mom-and-pop shops — a forced evacuation that is also happening in Brooklyn as real-estate costs skyrocket to prices that only big chains can afford.

Companies that will employ area residents with green jobs should be courted instead, Chavez said, because they will provide the type of work the blue-collar neighborhood needs to thrive.

“When we’re talking about the industrial zone we believe it ought to be used for green industries and manufacturing, which serve the city’s climate-adaptation needs and provide working-class jobs to the local community,” he said. “We don’t see the second Amazon headquarters as doing either of those things.”

National chains such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bed, Bath, and Beyond recently opened in Sunset Park, and Amazon would bring even more big-box business — and the type of resident it attracts — to the nabe at a time when it needs room to breathe, according to Chavez.

“A development of this nature would directly undermine a very fragile industrial market locally,” he said.

But Adams said he is not convinced that the workspace would jeopardize affordability in the borough, noting there are protections such as land-use rules to keep housing affordable.

“It’s not something I’m concerned with in bringing in Amazon,” he said. “The borough is not going to become a place that is unaffordable because Amazon is here, it will do that if we don’t do our jobs to make sure tenants are protected.”

Chavez, however, said the spike in Seattle real estate’s value that followed the opening of Amazon’s home base there is reason enough to suspect prices in Kings County would soar, too.

“There is simply no end to the empirical evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, that demonstrates the mind-blowing impact that Amazon headquarters has had on affordability in Seattle,” he said. “To downplay the risk of similar impacts in a working class community of color like Sunset Park is just surreal.”

A Brooklyn world headquarters would further expand the online marketplace’s huge footprint in New York City, where it already owns distribution centers at Sunset Park’s Liberty View Industrial Plaza and in Manhattan, a book store on the distant island, and a planned Staten Island warehouse.

Amazon is accepting pitches for second home base locations until Oct. 19.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 9:33 pm, September 27, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Michael says:
This is so true - who doesn't want to live next to a 24/7 warehouse that is constantly recieving and sending goods?! That will make this unused industrial area way too desireable!
Just think of the beautiful view of the drones and the lovely smell of the exhaust of the delivery trucks! It will make Sunset Park feel like Park Avenue! My god - who could resist that!
Sept. 21, 2017, 5 am
jjm from c. hill says:
I say if amazon doesnt wanna make the homelessness situation in nyc any worser then it already is then they shouldnt come here.
Sept. 21, 2017, 6:38 am
Bill from Boerum Hill says:
Jeff Bezos is a classic progressive phoney. He cares about the poor so much. Same goes for Eric Adams. They don't give a damn if Amazon makes Brooklyn unaffordable for everyone else.
Sept. 21, 2017, 10:17 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Jobs? We don't need jobs! We don't need the taxes it will provide! We need another park that no one will take care of! We need another casino!
Sept. 21, 2017, 12:18 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Everything good makes Brooklyn more desirable/less affordable if we won't allow enough new housing.
Sept. 21, 2017, 12:44 pm
Fred from Windsor Terrace says:
Yes, lets turn down thousands of jobs because, you know, people with money to spend may want to live and spend it in Sunset Park. And that would be a bad thing.
Sept. 21, 2017, 3:16 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Bringing thousands of jobs to a working class neighborhood is bad why? Sunset residents will be the recipients of better paying local jobs, and the increase of the value of their homes.
Sept. 21, 2017, 3:24 pm
Calvin from Brooklyn Heights says:
If Uprose truly wants 'working class jobs' for Brooklyn, they should be working to bring WalMart here. Our working class neighbors would benefit doubly, from a reduced cost of living owing to WM's low prices, in addition to more 'working class jobs'.
Sept. 21, 2017, 5:19 pm
SCR from Realityville says:
Is it going to bring 50,000 additional jobs to Brooklyn,NY,or bring 50,000 additional people to Brooklyn,NY;from other places? Any idea,what's the breakdown,since it is very likely;a combination of both? We're talking Journalism 101. Do a bit more investigations,before writing. It does make difference.
Sept. 21, 2017, 8:14 pm
Ratso Rizzo from Midtown says:
If you want peace and tranquility than why the f*** do you live in Brooklyn?
Sept. 21, 2017, 8:54 pm
samir kabir from downtown says:
Last time I checked, Brooklyn already is unaffordable. The value of my apartment has increased from $82,000 in 1996 to $875,000 in 2017. That's weird.
Sept. 22, 2017, 3:43 am
Honey Pooter from Williamsburg says:
Unaffordable to who?! I only pay $58 a month. If you need cheap space, you can always find something in Williamsburg. But mayeb you think you're too fancy to live here?!
Sept. 22, 2017, 5:35 am
Lizzie552 from Park Slope says:
Sunset Park is not "a community of color" in the common parlance of NYC. There are almost no "colored people" in those neighborhood boundaries between the Prospect Expressway and 65th Street, but plenty of Asians, white Hispanics, and yes, Caucasians.
Sept. 22, 2017, 8:54 am
David M from Coney Island says:
Sunset Park is a huge tax burden and has no right to complain. There are so many illegal imigrants having 4 babies at a time on the governments dime ,that the city is building 4 new schools in this neighborhood to fit them all in. How much do you think that is costing? Since most in sunset dont pay taxes those expenses come from companies and middle class of NYC. Now we are suppost to say no to a huge company like Amazon and 50'000 potential tax payers to keep their rents cheap on top of it all??. Sorry Sunset Park , I dont feel sorry for you. We the middle class welcome more taxpayers to share the burden of feeding your ass.
Sept. 22, 2017, 10:26 am
Juan from Sunset park says:
I love all these activist groups who put down minorities who think we can not attain skills to handles tech jobs. They are the ones who are protecting there power and holding the members of the community back. Amazon will bring in so many good jobs for my friends at nyc tech college who will be able to find jobs locally rather than having to move. Why don't you see more successful "black and brown" people in NYC. We have to move out to get good jobs and as everyone else, we want safe places to live. My lazy older brother can't afford to live in brooklyn. When i was studying and working hard in school, he was chilling on the corner smoking and drinking.
Sept. 22, 2017, 2:36 pm
Jimmy from Bedstuy says:
It's very foolish to reject things that create so many jobs and tax revenue for Brooklyn, in the name of the overly used "affordability" if the many long term unemployed people can have jobs, they can totally find somewhere they can afford in nyc, perhaps not Park Ave in Manhattan or Park Slope. So stop whining and get a job. Or move to a Communist country. Here in US we practice free economy.
Sept. 22, 2017, 4:39 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
The people at UPROSE are my heroes and leaders. Who else will rage against any change? Who else but UPROSE will stand up for keeping things the same? UPROSE feels the same way I do; that change caused by white people is especially dangerous and must be stopped. I will rage with UPROSE against change. Sunset Park must stay exactly the way it is, or I will shout until your eardrums burst.

That is what I will do.
Sept. 24, 2017, 1:41 pm
Adam from Bedstuy says:
No, amazon did not drive up real estate prices in Seattle. Microsoft did.

In any case, amazon will create 50k jobs, unlike deblasio or trump. Bklyn is expensive already, if no one has noticed. Sunset park is doomed to improve whether you like it or not so best to be part of the solution than to be a problem.
Sept. 26, 2017, 9:05 am
Gargoyle from Newkirk Plaza says:
Let the Bronx have it. It's in desperate need.
If not the Bronx, then Detroit.
And don't forget Rochester, NY.
Sept. 26, 2017, 11:38 pm
Benny from Park Slope says:
Adam, stating that "Amazon did not drive up real estate prices in Seattle, Microsoft did" is only half true. Seattle real estate values have been among the most volatile in the nation for decades, but that has as much to do with the entire tech sector (and Boeing, of course) as it has to do with either MS or Amazon alone. Want to try again?
Sept. 27, 2017, 9 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
How about Newark?
Sept. 27, 2017, 11:11 am

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