Amazon won’t start hiring for its New York headquarters until 2019, but investors are already throwing down major cash on real estate in its soon-to-be neighborhood, Long Island City.
The waterfront Queens locale was announced last month as one of two future Amazon headquarters sites, along with Crystal City, Va., drawing to a close a yearlong competition that saw cities around the U.S. and Canada vying to curry favor with the e-commerce giant.
Now, as many critics of the project predicted, it seems clear the company will bring rising housing costs with it. Numerous Long Island City-based brokerages have said that the announcement turned the neighborhood from a buyer’s market into a seller’s market virtually overnight. Brokerage Modern Spaces says it saw a 500 percent increase in condo sales traffic in the two weeks following the announcement. It also experienced a record week, selling 200 units for a total of around $190 million. Now, with the market as hot as it is, several developers the company works with have been able to hike their prices.
Many of the prospective owners are investors who are looking to get in on the market before Amazon brings 25,000 corporate jobs to the area, a move that will no doubt speed along the redevelopment of the formerly industrial neighborhood. Even after the initial, unconfirmed rumors circulated about Amazon’s dual HQ2 choices, search traffic spiked for real estate listings nearby: The property site StreetEasy said it saw a 283 percent increase in searches between Nov. 5 and 7 from the same three days the prior week, and a more than 500 percent rise in the three days after Amazon confirmed the news.
While brokers and property owners are naturally happy to see business booming (particularly as the market has softened in many parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn), not every local resident is thrilled: Many have protested the nearly $3 billion in tax incentives Amazon stands to receive in New York, and City Council lawmakers plan to scrutinize the deal in a series of hearings this month.
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