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Bob's Blog

Introduction

In my non-professional travel and everyday life I often view things through the prism of a site selector. In this blog I share some observations and thoughts that might be of mild interest to the larger community of site selectors, economic developers, and corporate managers. I am not a frequent blogger (more often doing client work), and when I do so I may add a post with a link in LinkedIn. I use my twitter account, @BFSSSS, more as a rant about poor customer service or what seem to me to be non sequiturs. Actually, I have found twitter to sometimes yield quicker responses than via customer service kiosk queues or phone calls when those media are backed up or unavailable, for example after a flight cancellation, while overseas, or after one of several hurricane evacuations from my summer home on the Outer Banks.

There goes the neighborhood

This Saturday I took a stroll from the Court Square subway station to my daughter’s apartment in Long Island City which overlooks Anable Basin where Amazon is reported to be building its HQ2. While I did not pass the public housing in the neighborhood, I did see a number of industrial buildings in need of redevelopment. (This blog’s cover photo was taken from her apartment and is at or near where Amazon intends to build.)

AnableBasin.jpeg

My daughter’s apartment building is described by the rental agent as “Overlooking the rooftops of Queens on one side and the stunning Manhattan skyline on the other, 4615 Center Boulevard is the ultimate in modern luxury living. This new 42-story high-rise is home to 367 apartments, each of which features stone countertops, sleek kitchens and baths, and stylish fixtures by Grohe and Kohler.” Curiously, it and a few neighboring high rises are assigned the 11109 zip code rather than the 11101 zip code for the rest of Long Island City and the Amazon site. As the chart indicates the demographics of the two areas are different.

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This reminded me of a practice where prosperous companies, which were on the edge of economically depressed census tracts - notably in the Times Square / Hells Kitchen area, were searched for. The companies were then pitched consulting services to apply for Enterprise Zone tax credits based on their existing employees.

While Amazon may also reap some tax benefits from the economic status of the 11101 zip code, not all of the area is depressed, and in fact, Amazon’s announcement comes at a good time for some. As an example, the Power House is a luxury condominium in the 11101 zip code that was converted from an old coal burning power station. The building’s 10 year property tax abatement that the city granted is about to expire, and other building in the area is already encroaching on its views of the Manhattan skyline, so the extra demand on housing in the areas is welcome to its tenants.

Bob Frederickson