It was business as usual in Long Island City last week. Catering and moving trucks buzzed in and out of a waterfront neighborhood. One worker manned a forklift on the sidewalk while another nearby spray-painted a metal frame.
You wouldn’t know it from standing there, but just weeks earlier this quiet industrial block in Queens was slated to become a 25,000-employee campus for Amazon — that is, until protesters and local politicians helped kill the project.
Meanwhile, at Crystal City, in Virginia’s Arlington County, it’s a very different scene, where demolition has already started in preparation for construction of Amazon’s surviving 25,000-employee development. Local activists are raising concerns about the Virginia project, but — unlike in New York — there seems to be far less vitriol.
When the New York project fell apart in February, focus quickly shifted to Crystal City, where plenty of onlookers wondered if both developments could fail.
But according to development experts, local politicians and demographic data, the Virginia project was always a better fit and more critical to Amazon’s future than the New York site.
Not only that, but walking away from both projects would be an even bigger embarrassment for the company.
For those reasons, it seems likely Amazon will stay the course in Crystal City, even if more protests or challenges bubble up.
It also seems like a keeper for the locals, despite some grumbling.
“This is a game-changer for Arlington,” said Stephen Fuller, a professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. “The tax base is eroding; this turns that around.”