Good afternoon. Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The Point! And get ready for a challenging edition of the newsletter tomorrow. Grab a pencil and check your in-box early.
The Big Amazon Apple
Since Amazon announced this month that it is in the market for a second headquarters, local governments all over the country have been laying out the red carpet in preparation for a bid.
New York is doing the same and more. Thursday morning, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a separate deal with Amazon to bring 2,000 jobs to a 359,000-square-foot office space at 5 Manhattan West. In exchange, Amazon will get $20 million in “performance-based tax credits,” meaning that the company has to hit its job-creation commitment in 10 years to get the deal.
The Manhattan outpost comes hot on the heels of an announcement early this month of a Staten Island fulfillment center for Amazon: 2,250 jobs, and another $18 million in performance-based credits.
That adds up to $38 million ahead of New York’s official pitch for the biggest fish. That effort is being shepherded by state economic development czar Howard Zemsky, who is promising to do “everything we can” to snare the 50,000 jobs projected at Amazon’s second headquarters.
Cuomo’s news release also went out of its way to butter up the Seattle-based company, endorsing it as a good employer that gives full-time employees “competitive pay and a comprehensive benefits package, including healthcare, 401(k), company stock awards, and parental leave benefits, including up to 20 weeks of paid leave and innovative benefits such as Leave Share and Ramp Back, which give new parents flexibility with their growing families.”
Zemsky held a meeting in Manhattan on Tuesday with key business leaders to hear ideas on how to shape the state’s proposal. Insiders think the most viable sites are ones located in New York City or paired with a bordering suburb — which clearly tracks with Amazon’s prime New York deals so far this year.
Mark Chiusano and Rita Ciolli
Topsy-turvy politics over downtown Riverhead
A big residential development pegged to continue the resurgence of downtown Riverhead received final approval this week from the Riverhead Town Board.
But the controversy it created likely will continue deep into the fall and the race for town supervisor because of the topsy-turvy situation it created — the Republican strongly supported the affordable housing project, while the Democrat was opposed.
GOP incumbent Sean Walter backed Riverhead Lofts, an all-affordable, 116-unit, five-story, mixed-use project from developer Dave Gallo to be located on Main Street. Walter told The Point that after looking at Long Island problems like the brain drain and the lack of housing and economic opportunity, “I realized this is the perfect opportunity for the Town of Riverhead to be in the forefront.”
His opponent, Democrat Laura Jens Smith, president of the Mattituck Cutchogue school board, decries the town’s master plan that makes Riverhead Lofts an as-of-right project. She says the zoning allows buildings that are too high and does not provide enough parking.
“I know, what is a Democrat doing not jumping all over this and saying it’s absolutely wonderful?” Jens Smith said. “But some of the situation here is different.”
With Riverhead’s downtown still in transition mode and more proposals in the pipeline, look for this issue to fuel what is always a fierce election fight in Riverhead, where the politics is never predictable.
Suffolk race on fire
A close race for the open seat in Suffolk County’s 3rd Legislative District already is getting nasty.
The Point has learned that Democrat Josh Slaughter’s campaign is seeking the time sheets of his Republican opponent, Mastic volunteer firefighter Rudy Sunderman. The Slaughter campaign believes that Sunderman has been campaigning on Mastic Fire Department time. Sunderman, chief of the department, is unpaid, but he earns pension credits for his time as chief and drives an official fire department vehicle.
The department has yet to respond to Slaughter’s Freedom of Information Law request.
Slaughter’s campaign is also concerned about three YouTube videos made for Sunderman’s race. They were apparently shot at the firehouse, which as a public building is usually off-limits for political use.
The Point was unable to reach Sunderman’s office at the fire department, but we are sure he will have a lot to say about Slaughter in the next few weeks.