Long Island City has been given the official nod, to become one of the twin locations, along with Crystal City, Virginia, to house Amazon’s second headquarters. There’s no word yet on how the tech giant will divvy up the promised investment in the two sites, but residents and investors in the Queens location will likely be hoping to get at least half of $5 billion earmarked for HQ2, as well as 25,000 of the 50,000 high-paying jobs.
Questions have already been raised about whether the area’s already stretched infrastructure can handle the influx of workers. There are also reports that a controversial planning process will be used that would bypass city approval.
There are going to be challenges to keep housing affordable. Rental data supplied by listings site RentCafé, suggests the New York City location already has an occupancy rate of 98.2 percent, a statistic that hints at sales prices being pushed up as demand increases. Likewise, StreetEasy notes buyer searches for apartments in Long Island City soon after the announcement was leaked in early November, were up 306 percent on the same week last year.
“Amazon’s move to Queens has the potential to produce a giant eastward shift in the economic geography of the city,” says Grant Long, senior economist at StreetEasy. “With the sales market slowing elsewhere in the city, investors are moving quickly to place bets on Amazon reshaping western Queens. Anyone who might have already been considering a move to Long Island City is no doubt under more pressure to get in now, ahead of the rise in prices likely to come with the sharp rise in interest from those looking to make a quick buck.”
Depending on how quickly Amazon mobilizes, RentCafé reports some of the pressure on housing will be alleviated by 15,400 units under construction. Long is in no doubt who the real winners will be. “The developers who have been building in the area over the course of the past 15 years are likely to reap the biggest windfalls from the Amazon announcement, following a long period of doubts about the city’s ability to absorb the large number of homes that have come onto the market since the area’s redevelopment began in the early 2000s.”
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