Amazon, like many folks still struggling to locate an affordable apartment in and around New York City, can’t find anywhere that will let it settle down. First the company tried Queens, but found the neighborhood was too rowdy. Now, the area across the bay is no longer so keen on letting the retail giant set up shop.
Amazon had been trying to create a new shipping hub at the Newark Liberty International Airport, and had been negotiating with the New York and New Jersey Port Authority since it first submitted its plans back in August of 2021. Officials announced Thursday that the deal was off, and they were looking for other tenants for the space.
In a statement Thursday, Port Authority Chief Operating Officer Huntley Lawrence said that while his office and Amazon engaged in “good-faith” negotiations over the past year, they have been “unable to reach an agreement on the final lease terms.”
Amazon had previously tried to create a massive new headquarters located in Long Island City, Queens after the big apple got the company on board with nearly $3 billion in tax incentives. The deal fell through after a massive wave of community backlash made the whole enterprise untenable.
An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo in an interview that “we’re disappointed to report that we’ve been unable to reach a final deal for the regional air hub at Newark Liberty International Airport. Despite this outcome, we value our relationship with the Port Authority, and we’re proud of our robust presence in New Jersey and look forward to continued investments in the state.”
Lawrence said they still want to put something in that airport space, saying “The growth of air cargo and the redevelopment of airport facilities in a manner that benefits the region as well as the local community remain a top priority of the Port Authority.” The New York Times reported that two other companies are bidding on the rights to create a shipping hub at the Newark airport. The project is for a 20-year lease potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Times.
Amazon’s original plans called for them to transform two existing structures at the airport, investing a total of $125 million for renovation, according to a 2021 press release. Under the initial agreement, Amazon said they would pay $150 million to the Port Authority in a lump sum as well as an additional $157 million in rent over the next 20 years.
Officials including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy were public in their praise for the plans, but community groups were much more concerned about the rapid growth of Amazon in the state. In a report commissioned by the Good Jobs Clean Air NJ Coalition, advocates against Amazon pointed out the number of warehouses in the state grew from one to 49 from 2013 to 2020. In that time, the number of low-wage workers ballooned from 5,500 to 49,000. Advocates said local neighborhoods near Amazon facilities, especially communities of color, suffer from increased traffic and pollution as well as suppressed wages across local industries.
Amazon has previously told Gizmodo that its starting pay is $18 an hour nationally and that their benefits include healthcare and 20 weeks of paid parental leave. The Times pointed out that the median wage for New Jersey was about $23 an hour in 2021.
Fierce opposition to Amazon’s plans came from community groups like Make the Road New Jersey. The advocacy group’s Twitter called the retail giant’s loss “a huge victory for [the cities of Newark and Elizabeth’s] residents, communities of color, and workers.”